- Title: ETHIOPIA: Elections not free and fair say opposition
- Date: 24th May 2010
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (English) OROMO PEOPLE'S CONGRESS (OPC) OFFICIAL, MERERA GUDINA SAYING: "So this election is not, really, in any standard, even by African standards it is not fair and free." VARIOUS DESALEGN GUDISSA TALKING TO MERARA GUDINA IN KOLBA LINCHA (SOUNDBITE) (Oromiffa) OPC MOBILE ELECTION OBSERVER, DESALEGN GUDISSA SAYING: "As voters entered the polling stations, the officials doing the security checks were whispering in their ears to vote for the EPRDF." AMBO AND BURAYU, OROMIA REGION, ETHIOPIA (MAY 23, 2010) (REUTERS) VARIOUS PEOPLE VOTING IN AMBO AND BURAYU POLLING STATION
- Embargoed: 8th June 2010 13:00
- Location: Ethiopia
- Country: Ethiopia
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAAGQRKJEU60P3AYT78I840I06S
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- Story Text: An opposition leader in Ethiopia says Sunday's (May 23) election is far from free and fair.
Merara Gudina, of the Oromo People's Congress (OPC) which is also a member of the eight party opposition coalition Medrek, is conspicuous as he drives around his home area.
He points out there are a lot of policemen and soldiers in what is a small village 160km west of Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa.
"The whole game is controlled by the local administration, called Kabines," he says.
Referring to the number of security personnel on the streets, Gudina says "It's a sign of intimidation of the local population to vote for the government."
Ethiopians are heading to the polls but Merara doesn't believe their votes will make any difference, claiming the poll will be rigged by the ruling party.
He believes people are not only being secretly encouraged to vote for the ruling party, some are being forbidden from voting altogether.
One voter, who would not give his name, says he was told he couldn't cast his ballot because he was accused of beating a ruling party supporter in the street.
Polling officials in Kolba Linche said those not allowed to vote didn't have valid ID papers.
Head of the polling station, Wondi Kassa, said the case was being investigated.
"We are not needlessly preventing people from voting," he said.
But Merera Gudina said the election was "even by African standards, not fair and free."
Desalegn Gudissa is one of OPC's mobile election observers and says he's witnessed intimidation first hand.
"As people entered the polling stations, the officials doing the security checks were whispering in their ears to vote for the EPRDF," he said.
The National Electoral Board claims there are four million extra voters registered this election. Queues to vote started early and continued throughout the day.
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