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Abiy predicts Ethiopian peace vote as parties end campaign | Stories of Abiy Ahmed

Political parties that took part in next week’s by-elections in Ethiopia ended their elections, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed predicts that the country will win a peaceful election.

The June 21 election comes amid political turmoil and economic hardship, as well as a month-long war north of Tigray in which the United Nations warns that at least 350,000 people are facing starvation. Opposition parties have stated they will not run in the by-elections, the sixth since the Communist government of Mengistu Haile Mariam was ousted in 1991.

“The whole world says we will fight but we will show them differently,” Abiy said Wednesday at his first and last rally in a crowded stadium in the southern town of Jimma.

“The power that saved Ethiopia from extinction will turn the Horn of Africa into the capital of power in Africa,” he added, wearing glasses and a tuxedo made of local cloth.

“I say to all Ethiopians (who are working) to fight for the peace, democracy and prosperity of Ethiopia: As long as the Ethiopians stand together in one spirit and one heart, nothing in the world can stop us,” he said. he speaks fluent in his own language – Afan Oromo, the vernacular – and the Amharic language.

Supporters of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed stand near the sign, as they attend their final campaign rally ahead of the Ethiopian parliamentary and regional elections scheduled for June 21 [Tiksa Negeri/Reuters]

Abiy’s Prosperity Party is setting up those who want to be the majority in the parliamentary race and is too popular to win, some political parties may not be the same.

For the 44-year-old, Monday’s vote is a chance to win a landslide victory after taking office in 2018 following years of opposition to the government.

After the election, Abiy pledged to reinstate the government and pave the way for a democratic transition, with the ultimate goal of free and fair elections – the first of which – by 2020.

But in March last year, based on the dangers posed by the coronavirus, the country’s electoral commission announced that it would suspend the polls for one year. The ruling has sparked outrage among the country’s political opponents, who say the ruling party is using the epidemic as a supplement to extend its control, which the government denies.

The second week’s reshuffle was announced last month due to difficulties, including the training of elected officials and printing and distribution of ballot papers.

Despite what has been called a global poll, Monday’s vote could not make up just one-fifth of the 547 states, including all 38 seats in Tigray and another 64 in the country with a population of about 110 million. Most of the delayed ballots are set for September 6 but no date has been set for Tigray, where more than 5 million people are in need of emergency food aid.

Abiy ordered that ground forces and planes in Tigray in early November 2020 had criticized the then ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), for organizing attacks in the camps, which were rejected by TPLF officials.

Abiy, whose troops are backed by Eritrean troops and fighters from the Amhara region of Ethiopia, announced their victory in late November when the troops entered the provincial capital, Mekelle. Fighting, however, continues and reports of killings, rapes and starvation are spreading.

A man walks past an election sign showing Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia [Tiksa Negeri/Reuters]

The United States, a former Ethiopian ally but a staunch opponent of the Tigray war, has expressed fears over the vote.

The arrests of prominent opposition leaders and racial tensions bring “obstacles to free and fair elections and whether Ethiopians can be trusted,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said last week.

“Except for the major electoral teams in the competition for security reasons and internal transfers are very difficult,” he said.

The European Union (EU) has said in May it will not send observers to the polls, citing failures to meet with government officials on key issues such as communications and observer rights.

The Oromo Federalist Congress and the Oromo Liberation Front – two well-known parties in Oromia, the country’s most populous region – walked out of the race, complaining that arrests had been made and their offices demolished.

But supporters of opposition parties participating in the upcoming elections on Wednesday marched through the streets of the capital, Addis Ababa, filling the city’s streets and banning traffic and rioting and singing and dancing.

The Balderas party, whose leader is in jail, marched through the city in a dangerous group led by horsemen led by a deafening mob.

“We are encouraging the people, although we do not believe that this vote will be free or fair,” said 25-year-old Zebiba Ibrahim, who represents the opposition party.

“We are doing our best to make our voices heard.”

In Meskel Square, in the center of the capital, another opposition party, Ezema, rallied supporters wrapped in Ethiopian flags and chanted slogans at the last rally.

“In previous elections, you would not have been able to hold rallies, you would not have been able to do anything,” said Temesgen Getahun, a 37-year-old hotel worker watching the upcoming celebrations.

“If you went to the streets you were arrested like that … considering the elections, that’s fine.”

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