Ethiopians vote amid logistical, security concerns

Ethiopia elections

Electoral officials empty a ballot box at a polling station in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on June 21, 2021. 

Photo credit: Marco Longari | AFP

What you need to know:

  • In  the capital, Addis Ababa, Nation.Africa witnessed voting by hundreds of voters who lined up at polling stations before polling stations opened at 6am.

Despite security concerns and alleged logistical constraints, millions of Ethiopians across the country on Monday cast their votes in the long awaited sixth general election.

In  the capital, Addis Ababa, Nation.Africa witnessed voting by hundreds of voters who lined up at polling stations before polling stations opened at 6am.

Ahead of the polls, the Ethiopian government had promised a democratic, free and fair election.

However, opposition parties reported alleged irregularities in the early hours of the election.

Later in the afternoon, the electoral board was overwhelmed with floods of complaints from opposition parties.

Some opposition observers accuse the government of deliberately imposing logistical shortages, like polling stations without ballots for hours after they opened.

Among the reported violations were pressure for voters to elect the ruling Prosperity Party. In addition, some voters said government cadres were speaking to them near polling stations.

In some polling stations, Natino.Africa learnt, the voting process did not begin until noon.

Other complaints

In the capital, opposition parties reported numerous complaints from Amhara and SNNPR, region.

Opposition political party candidates said they were not able to move freely and were being beaten, stripped of badges and prevented from approaching polling stations.

Complaints were submitted to the electoral board in the early hours from all parties except from the ruling Prosperity Party.

"Political parties have the basic right to set up their observers at each polling station. If they have a problem, they can file a complaint and could take their case to court,” Birtukan Mideksa, head of the Ethiopian electoral board, told a press conference she called following the complaints.

With regard to the violations against opposition parties, the electoral board admitted that "the situation in two regions, Amhara and SNNPR, particularly is alarming".

The board urged the regional administrations to rectify this problem saying "if the problem is not resolved, it will jeopardise the election process and the credibility of the results".

Voting extended

The voting process that started at 6 am was supposed to close at 6 pm but the board it extended it by three hours till 9pm.

However, sources told Nation.Africa that despite the order, many polling stations have closed at 6pm in defiance.

Logistical problems also featured. Ballot papers were distributed from Addis Ababa by helicopter to polling stations that had shortages of ballot papers.

Meanwhile, two opposition parties boycotted the election after their observers were allegedly beaten and prevented from observing the vote.

Over 40 Ethiopian political parties and private candidates are vying for seats in the states and federal councils.

Some 37 million people registered to vote in the poll that is not taking place in three regions over what the electoral board said was insecurity.

Preliminary vote counting will begin at each polling station as soon as voting end.