Ethiopia’s Prime Minister: Next Week’s Election Will be Peaceful

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed attends his last campaign event ahead of Ethiopia's parliamentary and regional elections scheduled for June 21, in Jimma, Ethiopia, June 16, 2021. (Photo by Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

Reuters

JIMMA, Ethiopia – Ethiopia will show a sceptical world that it can successfully hold a peaceful election next week, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed told a crowd of tens of thousands of supporters at his first – and last – campaign rally on Wednesday.

The June 21 vote is the first time Abiy, 44, will face voters at the ballot box in Africa’s second most populous nation. He tweeted this week that the election “will be the nation’s first attempt at free and fair elections”. read more


PM Abiy Ahmed campaigning in Jimma on June 16, 2021. (Photo by Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

“The whole world is saying we will fight but we will show them differently,” Abiy told a packed stadium in the western city of Jimma. “The forces that saved Ethiopia from collapsing will turn the Horn of Africa into Africa’s power hub.”

Just over a fifth of parliamentary constituencies are not voting due to logistical problems, low-level violence or due to the war in the northern region of Tigray.

“I will vote for Abiy because he is creating many jobs, building schools and roads,” said Hawi Aba Jihad, 21, a motorised three-wheel taxi driver at the rally.


Supporters of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed attend his last campaign event ahead of Ethiopia’s parliamentary and regional elections scheduled for June 21, in Jimma, Ethiopia, June 16, 2021. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)


Supporters of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed attend his last campaign event ahead of Ethiopia’s parliamentary and regional elections scheduled for June 21, in Jimma, Ethiopia, June 16, 2021. (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

But many parties in Oromiya, the nation’s most populous region and the site of Wednesday’s rally, are boycotting the polls, alleging government intimidation.

Regional spokesman Getachew Balcha referred queries to the police commissioner, Ararsa Merdasa, who did not respond to questions on those accusations.

NEW FREEDOMS ROLLBACK?

Abiy rode a wave of optimism to become prime minister with a message of unity and reform after years of bloody anti-government demonstrations forced his predecessor to resign.

His appointment sparked hopes that one of the continent’s most repressive governments would speed up democratic and economic reforms.

Within months of taking office in 2018, Abiy freed more than 40,000 political prisoners, said Fisseha Tekle of Amnesty International. He unbanned political parties and signed a peace deal with neighbouring Eritrea, winning the Nobel peace prize for ending more than two decades of conflict.

He also began opening the sclerotic state-run economy to outside investors, starting with telecoms. read more

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