Woyanne continues to bully – OFDM is its latest victim – Reuters, Addis Ababa

April 16th, 2008 Print Print Email Email

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – A second opposition party in Ethiopia pulled out of ongoing council and parliamentary elections on Wednesday, accusing the ruling party of intimidating its agents during the first round of voting.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s party is expected to record a big win in the polls, which are the country’s first since deadly post-election demonstrations three years ago. First ballots were cast on Sunday and the second round is due on April 20. (more…)

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – A second opposition party in Ethiopia pulled out of ongoing council and parliamentary elections on Wednesday, accusing the ruling party of intimidating its agents during the first round of voting.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s party is expected to record a big win in the polls, which are the country’s first since deadly post-election demonstrations three years ago. First ballots were cast on Sunday and the second round is due on April 20.

Bulcha Demeksa, chairman of the opposition Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM), which has nine seats in parliament, said the first round suffered grave procedural and legal flaws.

The biggest parliamentary opposition party, the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces, had already withdrawn its 20,000 candidates before election day, saying many of it members had been prevented from registering by the authorities.

“OFDM election observers were callously mistreated. They were refused entry to polling stations. Our observers were pushed like they were intruders,” Bulcha told reporters.

“Under these circumstances, the OFDM has decided to withdraw from the local election of April 20, 2008.”

However, one OFDM legislator told the same news conference that three aspirants from Wellega, in western Ethiopia, would not pull out because of the effort they had put in during the first round.

Meles’ special adviser, Bereket Simon, said the OFDM claims were merely a tactic “to escape from facing defeat”.

Demonstrators took to the streets after polls in May 2005 that the opposition said were rigged. A parliamentary inquiry said 199 civilians and police were killed and 30,000 people arrested. The government denied rigging the ballot.

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