Crisis and conflict overshadows Ethiopians vote in elections

Ethiopia held elections on Monday billed by the prime minister as proof of his commitment to democracy after decades of repressive rule, although voting was delayed due to violence in some areas and opposition parties boycotted the poll in others.

Election board chief Birtukan Midekssa said voting was mostly peaceful so far. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said last week the national and regional votes would be the “first attempt at free and fair elections” in Ethiopia.

But ethnic violence and printing mistakes have delayed elections in a fifth of constituencies, including all of those in Tigray, where Ethiopia’s military has been fighting the northern region’s former governing party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), since November. In Oromiya.

Ethiopia’s most populous province, the largest opposition parties boycotted the vote over what they say is intimidation by regional security forces. Government officials did not return calls seeking comment about the allegations of intimidation.

Voting was mostly smooth in Addis Ababa, although nine polling stations opened late and some did not have enough ballots, Birtukan told a news conference.

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