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Ethiopia: Voting amid a cycle of violence

Millions of voters have been queuing to vote in Ethiopia's general elections on Monday amidst a cycle of violence including…

Millions of voters have been queuing to vote in Ethiopia’s general elections on Monday amidst a cycle of violence including a protracted conflict in its restive Tigray region.It is the first elections since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed assumed office in 2018.

The run-up to the vote has been characterised by the conflict in Tigray where federal troops have been accused of human rights violations since the unrest began last November.

Polling was delayed for up to an hour as election officials waited for the representatives of candidates at voting stations.

Ethiopian electoral laws mandates  the representatives of all candidates to be present at polling stations before voting could begin.

Despite the polls going ahead after being rescheduled twice due to the coronavirus, Ethiopia remains in the grip of a complex domestic crisis of a political and social nature.

The exercise is seen as a crucial test for Abiy Ahmed’s premiership given the challenges being faced by the Nobel Laureate.

Thanks to the ongoing conflict in Tigray, elections in the war-torn region have been postponed while a climate of insecurity has prompted the authorities in other constituencies across Ethiopia to suspend voting.

Voter registration in some trouble spots could not go ahead.

Voting cannot hold in Oromia and some parts of Amhara region, Soleyana Shimeles, a spokeswoman of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) has been quoted as saying.

Over 300, 000 people are staring famine in the face thanks to the humanitarian crisis caused by the Tigray conflict.

In a statement days before the polls the European Union has expressed concern with ongoing violence across the country, human rights violations and political tensions, harassment of media workers and detained opposition members.

The EU urged federal and local and regional authorities to ensure a transparent and safe process, guaranteeing the free and equal participation of all political parties and candidates.

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