Abiy Ahmed wins Ethiopia’s election held amid Tigray crisis and tainted by voter fraud concerns and opposition crackdown

The Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed Ali’s Prosperity Party (PP) has won the general elections that were held amid voter fraud concerns, opposition crackdown and a major military offensive in Tigray.

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The conflict in Tigray has displaced hundreds of thousands of people in the region and left millions others on the brink of an unprecedented famine. Thousands of people have been killed and many remain unaccounted for.

The United States last month said the elections were neither free nor fair for all Ethiopians and called for a national dialogue to resolve a lingering crisis that seemed to get worse even after the elections were held.

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Abiy’s Prosperity Party was expected to take 410 of the 516 parliamentary seats in the first round of the contest, meaning the 44-year old Prime Minister who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 but pursued war instead of peace will remain in office for another term. It is Ethiopia’s six national election and the first multi-parti elections in 16 years.

Abiy became the first Oromo person to lead Ethiopia when he took office in April 2018 following the resignation of his predecessor.

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There are 47 parties participating in the general elections and 37 million of Ethiopia’s 109 million citizens are registered to vote, but Abiy’s Prosperity Party has 2,432 aspirants, the highest number of registered candidates contesting for seats at the parliament. The elections are expected to be completed at the end of this year.

On June 25, the Biden administration said the June 21 elections in Ethiopia were neither free nor fair for all Ethiopians, citing the boycott of the elections by opposition parties, the detention of vocal political leaders, and the ongoing violence in multiple parts of the country.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali address the media briefing at the conclusion of the Official Visit by the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia at the Union Buildings in Tshwane. January 12, 2020
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali address the media briefing at the conclusion of the Official Visit by the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia at the Union Buildings in Tshwane. January 12, 2020

The Biden administration added that the ongoing conflict, violence, and likely famine declaration in Tigray “demand urgent action, including a ceasefire, the withdrawal of Eritrean forces from Ethiopian territory, the transparent investigation of atrocities, and unhindered humanitarian access to populations in need.”

“The June 21 elections in Ethiopia took place against a backdrop of grave instability, including increasing inter-ethnic and inter-communal conflicts, and an electoral process that was not free or fair for all Ethiopians,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

The Biden administration called for the launch of “an inclusive effort to build a national consensus on the governance of Ethiopia that preserves the sovereignty and unity of the state and strengthens the constitutional order.”

It also called on all Ethiopians to reject post-election violence and embrace peace and national dialogue, asserting that “democracy flourishes when institutions of governance are inclusive, transparent, accountable, and responsive to its people.”

“In this period following the election, it is critical that Ethiopians come together to confront growing divisions. We urge politicians and community leaders to reject violence and refrain from inciting others to violence,” Blinken said. “We look forward to a continued partnership with the Ethiopian people and to supporting efforts to promote inclusive political participation that moves the country forward on a path to democracy and national unity.”

The United States said it “stands ready to assist Ethiopians to advance post-election dialogue, resolution of conflicts, and national reconciliation in Ethiopia.”

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