Now that Ethiopia has held its 4th national elections since the removal of the Marxist Dergue government in 1991, Ethiopians and the international community must wait as long as June 21st to see confirmed results. There has been much made of the relative calm of the pre-election period (more on that shortly), but it must be recalled that the violence last time took place after the election, was provoked by a questionable release of election results and was spurred by government troops who killed nearly 200 election protesters.
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is predicting a win for himself and his ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) party. However, he also predicted a clear win in the last elections in 2005, and the surprisingly strong showing by opposition parties led to a delay in the announcement of results and suspicion of vote rigging by the government. All is quiet now, but if a similar result occurs when the results are announced next month, there could be further unrest.
Of course, some observers think the electorate expects there to be vote rigging and probably feels that protests are futile. Perhaps, but the voters also may be disappointed in an opposition that has fallen apart since its strong showing in 2005 after the jailing of opposition leaders and other factors causing previous parties to realign. There are three new opposition electoral coalitions in 2010: the Ethiopian Federal Democratic Forum (also known as "Medrek"), the All Ethiopian Unity Organization and the Ethiopian Democratic Party. Birtukan Mideksa, leader of the opposition Unity for Democracy and Justice party remains in jail.
Mideksa isn't the only opposition party official who was jailed - just the most notable one. While the international focus has been on restrictions on media coverage of the election and on the ability of foreign embassies to observe the voting, there have been reports of government harassment and abuse of opposition parties. The All ...[view whole blog post ]