General elections held on Sunday in Ethiopia were “credible” and in line with African Union standards, AU observers said Tuesday.
“The Ethiopian Parliamentary elections were generally consistent with the AU guidelines on the conduct of elections in Africa,” said a preliminary report on the polls by the head of the observer mission, former Namibian president Hifikepunye Pohamba.
Ethiopians voted on Sunday in the country’s first general elections since the death of strongman Meles Zenawi in 2012, with his successor Hailemariam Desalegn all but certain to stay in power.
Analysts say true democracy is yet to take root in Africa’s second-most populous nation, while the opposition also alleges the government has used authoritarian tactics to guarantee victory.
The AU observer report did note some irregularities, saying that in several polling stations the ballot boxes were not shown to be empty before voting started.
“The simple act of showing the ballot box as empty before opening the poll contributes to confidence building and transparency,” the observers said.
The AU had deployed 59 observers who visited 356 polling stations in eight out of Ethiopia‘s nine regions. European Union and Carter Center observers, who were present for the 2010 polls, were not invited to observe Sunday’s elections.
Initial results are expected to be released later this week, and final official tallies on June 22 — with the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) again expected to get a near-clean sweep of the 547-seat parliament.