National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) Chairman Merga Bekana announces preliminary results to the media in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Wednesday, May 27, 2015. Preliminary results released by Ethiopia’s electoral body show the ruling coalition winning comfortably in parliamentary elections. (Mulugeta Ayene/Associated Press)
By Elias Meseret | AP
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia’s ruling coalition won a sweeping victory in parliamentary elections, according to partial results released Wednesday. Western countries said the vote was peaceful but criticized what they described as restrictions on civil liberties.
Early results from the vote Sunday showed the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front winning at least 442 seats in the 547-seat federal parliament.
The ruling coalition won all 23 parliamentary seats from the capital, Addis Ababa, according to the tally by Ethiopia’s election commission.
Final results are expected on June 22.
The European Union said the elections were orderly but unfair.
“Arrests of journalists and opposition politicians, closure of a number of media outlets and obstacles faced by the opposition in conducting its campaign have limited the space for open debate and had a negative impact on the overall electoral environment,” the European Union said in a statement.
Similar concerns were raised by the United States. The State Department said the U.S. “remains deeply concerned by continued restrictions on civil society, media, opposition parties, and independent voices and views.”
It also said U.S. diplomats were denied accreditation as election observers.
In 2010, Ethiopia’s ruling coalition won 99.6 percent of all parliamentary seats in a sweeping victory that human rights groups said was the result of a state campaign to quell dissent. Only one opposition lawmaker made it to parliament in that election.
Some opposition leaders have alleged their members were harassed and beaten while trying to vote on May 24. The government denied the charges.
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has led the country since 2012.
Ethiopia’s economy has grown at an average of 11 percent over the last decade, more than double the rate for sub-Saharan Africa, according to United Nations figures. The growth is fueled in part by huge public expenditure on energy and infrastructure projects that attract private investment.