Africa Ethiopia polls run in orderly manner: AU chief observer

Ethiopia polls run in orderly manner: AU chief observer

Hifikepunye Pohamba, a former Namibian President
Hifikepunye Pohamba, a former Namibian President

(AA) – Head of the African Union (AU) mission dispatched to observe the Ethiopian parliamentary elections, which kicked off earlier Sunday, said that the polls have been proceeding in an orderly manner.

“The election officials were at the polling stations on time and voting started at the prescribed hour 6.00 a.m. local time (0300 GMT). All the election materials were in place,” Hifikepunye Pohamba, a former Namibian president, told reporters.

Pohamba made the remarks after he accompanied by nine members of the observation mission visited a polling station at the Bole district in Addis Ababa, following similar visits to three other stations elsewhere in the capital.

“Domestic observers were at the stations and there were a few political party agents,” he noted, adding that the voting was “orderly” and security officers were present.

“We received initial reports from some of our teams around the country. Most of the over 100 polling stations observed opened on time…and no incidents were reported,” he added.

The African Union Commission deployed 50 short-term observers and scores of long-term observers who have been deployed across Ethiopia.

Meanwhile, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and President Mulatu Teshome cast their votes in two different states as polling continues across the country.

Hailemariam, who is also the leader of the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), cast his ballot in Wolaita Zone, South Ethiopia Peoples’ State, 400 kilometers south of Addis Ababa, while Mulatu voted in central Addis Ababa.

“The elections are being held smoothly and this is an indication of growing democracy,” Hailemariam told reporters.

Hailemariam is competing for a seat in the parliament, mainly against the opposition Blue/Semayawi Party and newly-formed New Generation Party.

Some 36.8 million voters, including 17.8 million females, are registered to cast votes in the elections.

Fifty-eight political parties are competing for the 547 seat parliament and regional state councils. The parties have fielded a total of 5,819 candidates.

The EPRDF, which won the past four elections, has fielded a total of 1,350 candidates – many more than any of the country’s opposition parties.

 

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