Source Pravda.Ru

Ethiopia: Parliamentary elections were peaceful and democratic

Ethiopians voted in parliamentary elections yesterday that are being seen as a key test of the progress of democracy in the Horn of Africa.

Before voting opened at 6am, long queues had formed at many of the 35,000 polling stations around the country.

More than 90 per cent of the country`s 26 million registered voters were expected to cast their ballots in only the second election since the advent of multiparty politics and the first to be watched by foreign observers, publishes the Times Online.

The worst problem foreign election observers found yesterday was the crowds, with some voters waiting hours to cast their ballots.

But a senior opposition official said after the vote that his party`s observers had been chased out of polling centres where ballots were being tallied.

"In many places our poll watchers are being kicked out and we don`t know who is counting the vote," said Berhanu Nega, vice chairman of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy.

But his party had not yet decided whether to accept the results. "This is too important to rush into a decision," he said. "We need to get all the data."

Many have pointed to yesterday’s race between the ruling coalition that ended an oppressive dictatorship in 1991 and new opposition parties who promise greater &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/comp/2001/09/07/14562.html ' target=_blank>liberalisation as a test of his commitment to reform, informs the Scotsman.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, known as one of the continent's more progressive leaders, pledged that his sometimes authoritarian government would introduce greater democracy.

But late Sunday he banned demonstrations in Addis Ababa starting Monday and took control of the capital's police force. "I have heard the comments of the foreign observers and the elections were peaceful and democratic," Meles said in an address on state radio.

Berhanu said the ban was attempt to cover up voting fraud.

Many have pointed to Sunday`s race pitting the ruling coalition that ended a brutal &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2002/06/13/30311.html ' target=_blank>dictatorship in 1991 against new opposition parties who promise greater liberalization as a test of his commitment to reform.