The governing party has won all contested seats in elections in the northern Tigray region of Ethiopia, which has already affected hostile relations with the federal government.
“The total seats for all the regional constituencies were won by the TPLF,” Regional Election Commissioner Muluvette Kidnaramium said on Friday, referring to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.
Officially there were “97 or 98 percent” of the more than 2.6 million registered voters, Mulwerk told AFP news agency.
The regional parliament comprises 190 seats – 152 of which were in the elections held on Wednesday.
Muluwork said the remaining 38 seats would be allocated after negotiations between the five political parties participating in the vote, which means there is still a chance for some opposition representation.
The election is a low point of a bitter dispute between the Prime Minister’s government Abi Ahmed And Tigray, which dominated Ethiopia’s politics for nearly 30 years before the government’s protests, brought Abi to power in 2018.
Ethiopia was scheduled to hold a national election in August, but the national election body announced in March would need to be postponed due to the coronovirus epidemic.
However, the Tigrayan leaders declined the extension of the mandate – which would expire in October – assuming that if national elections were not held, Abi’s government would be illegitimate.
The decision to hold its own election this week has ranked federal officials who have said they have “no legal basis” and are “null and void”.
In an interview with state media this week, Abi dismissed Tigray’s election as a “peace election”.
Abraham Takeste, vice-president of Tigray, told AFP on Friday that one of this week’s surveys was “that people really wanted to hold elections” – not only in Tigray but across the country.
“COVID-19 cannot be a reason for postponement,” he said.
The TPLF faced off against four other parties this week, one of which – the Tigray Independence Party (TIP) – is calling on Tigray to build its country.
Opposition leaders said that the TPLF’s long history as the Governing Party has effectively given it the advantage it deserves.
“The problem in Tigray is the culture of democratization. There is no demarcation between the ruling party and the government,” said Kiden Amin, head of the opposition party Betan Tigre.
Opposition leaders have so far criticized the process citing scattered news of polling stations for supervisors and lack of access to polling stations.
On Friday, Hayaloo Godefay, president of Salsay Voyne Tigre opposition partyRaised the possibility of “fraud”, but said he was still gathering information on how the voting took place.
He said, “In some areas there are complaints of electoral fraud by our members and the TPLF has stolen our votes, but as I told you we are still trying to give full proof of these issues,” They said.