June 19, 2010 ·4 Comments
ADDIS ABABA (Somalilandpress) — Ethiopia’s Supreme Court on Friday rejected a case brought by the country’s opposition against the ruling party’s landslide victory in elections criticised by the European Union and the United States.
The ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and allies provisionally won 545 seats in the 547-member parliament on May 23, giving Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, in power since 1991, another five years in charge.
The country’s biggest opposition coalition, the eight-party Medrek, won just a single seat. Medrek and the smaller All Ethiopia Unity Party (AEUP) demanded a rerun, alleging pre-poll intimidation and some vote rigging.
The National Electoral Board (NEB), however, rejected the call, saying neither party had evidence. The Supreme Court on Friday backed the NEB and threw out a case the opposition had mounted, asking that the NEB ruling be overturned.
“The Supreme Court has simply endorsed the decision of the NEB and rejected our appeal against that decision,” Medrek chairman Beyene Petros told Reuters.
“There was a total lack of seriousness in reviewing our appeal. Under Ethiopian law, the burden is on the NEB to investigate whatever allegations and evidence we put forward and they didn’t do this, which is a violation of the law.”
The aftermath of the election is being watched by Western diplomats in a country that is a growing destination for investment and is Washington’s key ally in the Horn of Africa, where it is seen as stemming the rise of Islamic militancy.
At Ethiopia’s last elections in 2005, an opposition coalition cried foul and riots erupted in the capital. Security forces killed 193 protesters and seven policemen died.
The top opposition leaders were jailed accused of sparking the trouble. Beyene said Medrek’s leaders would meet on Friday and Saturday to decide their next move.
He said Ethiopian law provided for one last court challenge on the grounds the NEB broke the law but he did not rule out street protests.
“I really feel totally betrayed by the system,” Beyene said. “I thought that if we competed in the elections there would be a door ajar that could be made use of by competing parties. This assumption of mine was totally misplaced,” Beyene said.
A European Union observer mission said the poll was marred by the EPRDF’s use of state resources for campaigning, putting the opposition at a disadvantage ahead of the vote, but said this did not mean the count itself was invalid.
The United States said the election, whose official results will be announced by NEB on June 21, failed to meet international standards.
by Barry Malone
Source: Reuters | Sunday – June 20, 2010Follow @somalilandpress