ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - Provisional results show that Ethiopia's ruling party won national elections, officials said Monday, as a U.S. rights group said the weekend ballot had been corrupted by irregularities.
The Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front and its allies were ahead in the nine regions that have reported results, out of a total of 11, board chairman Merga Bekana said. "As far as the provisional result is concerned, the EPRDF has winned," Merga said. Final results will be announced in late June, officials have said.
Sunday's vote had been closely watched by international observers after the 2005 election, in which the opposition won an unprecedented number of parliamentary seats only to endure police crackdowns and the killing of 193 demonstrators after the votes were counted.
Neither opposition leaders nor ruling-party officials could be reached for comment on the results announced Monday. The opposition had complained previously of vote-rigging and intimidation on election day.
The election board chairman also said the ruling party had won 20 of the capital's 23 parliamentary seats, with only two left to report results in Addis Ababa. There are 546 assembly seats in all.
New York-based Human Rights Watch criticized the voting process as corrupted by preelection irregularities, including telling voters they could lose food assistance, public-sector jobs, loans, and educational opportunities if they voted against the ruling party.
"Behind an orderly facade, the government pressured, intimidated, and threatened Ethiopian voters," said Rona Peligal, acting Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
European Union officials said that they also received reports of irregularities and that they would release a report on the election Tuesday.
Merga read out the results in English, calling the process "very transparent, free, fair, and peaceful." He refused to say how many votes the ruling party received, but an AP calculation shows the ruling party won 6.7 million votes in the nine regions reported. Merga said more than 90 percent of the 32 million registered voters cast ballots.