- Title: ETHIOPIA: ETHIOPIAN OPPOSITION CLAIMS BIG GAINS IN ELECTION
- Date: 16th May 2005
- Summary: (BN15) ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA (MAY 16, 2005) (REUTERS) 1. SLV PRESS CONFERENCE 0.04 2. MCU (English) MEMBER OF THE COALITION OF UNITY & DEMOCRACY, BERHANU NEGA, SAYING: "In the 23 constituencies we have now confirmed that CUD has won fully the 20 constituencies, actually in a landslide with a very big margin all the parliamentary seats and the municipal council." 0.35 3. SLV PRESSER AT THE JIMMY CARTER CENTRE IN ADDIS ABABA 0.39 4. MCU (English) FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER SAYING: "There is a need for caution that might restirct mass public demonstyrations, his opion was that this is a precautionary measure, temprorary in nature, geographically limited to prevent any conftontation of a violent nature between winners and losers here in the capital city. 1.04 5. SLV OF THE PRESSER 1.08 6. MCU (English) FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER SAYING: "We believe collectively that the decision of the Prime Minister was not excessive in preventing any possible arousal of animosity or violence among his own supporters or the opposition." 1.26 7. SLV OF THE PRESSER 1.30 Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
- Embargoed: 31st May 2005 13:00
- Location: ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA
- Country: Ethiopia
- Reuters ID: LVACZ3AB7DFLT3487IC4JQZET1H
- Story Text: Ethiopian opposition claims big gains in Sunday's
Ethiopia's opposition claimed big gains in the
capital and beyond as election results trickled in on
Monday (May 16), although the mass of rural voters are
expected to hand overall victory to Prime Minister Meles
Opposition parties set aside long-standing differences
to unite behind a platform of free market reforms for
Sunday's polls, seeking to capitalise on growing resentment
over the government's failure to tackle poverty.
The government has banned rallies for a month to ward
off any trouble over results. Opposition leaders said a
huge election turnout reflected mounting frustration with
Meles' 14-year leadership of the Horn of Africa country.
Despite growing opposition support, Meles is expected
to exploit his party's dominant position among peasants who
form the bulk of the population of 72 million to win a
third five-year term.
"Clearly people want change, and they want to assert
their freedom, they are not going to live in a society
where their rights and freedoms are not respected," Berhanu
Nega, vice-chairman of the main opposition group, the
Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), told Reuters.
The group said it had won about 60 seats, including all
23 seats in Addis Ababa, based on results forwarded to them
from polling stations but not officially endorsed.
If confirmed, such a figure would represent a big swing
to the opposition, which held about 20 seats before the
"We have won Addis and we have won a number of cities
across the country," Berhanu told a news conference.
The polls are seen as a test of Meles' commitment to
democracy after centuries of feudalism followed by 17 years
of Marxist dictatorship in Africa's biggest coffee grower,
where Meles ousted dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991.
The opposition accused the government before the polls
of trying to rig the elections, threatening to reject the
results unless the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front stopped harassing its supporters --
allegations the government has repeatedly denied.
Berhanu said his coalition would wait for all the
returns to come through across the ethnically diverse
country before deciding whether to accept the outcome.
Information Minister Bereket Simon said the government
acknowledged the opposition had made headway in the
"I understand the opposition has a significant victory
in Addis," Bereket told Reuters.
Diplomats and analysts say the opposition may manage to
reduce Meles' majority of more than 500 seats in the
547-seat federal assembly. The opposition say they need at
least 185 seats to be an effective voice in parliament.
The election board said on Monday more than 90 percent
of 25.6 million registered voters had cast ballots.
Analysts said the government had imposed the ban on
demonstrations late on Sunday to ward off trouble in the
capital, where hundreds of thousands of opposition
supporters held a huge rally a week before the elections.
"This semi-state of emergency the prime minister
announced, we believe, was absolutely premature and
uncalled for," Berhanu said.
Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, whose Carter Centre
deployed 50 observers, said isolated reports of problems
such as errors on electoral lists, some underage voting and
failures to check identity cards would not affect the
"There was an unprecedented opportunity for opposition
leaders to present their case to the people," he said.
More than 300 foreigners observed the polls, the most
ever allowed at an Ethiopian election. Preliminary results
are expected on May 21 and official results on June 8.
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