, ADDIS ABABA, May 26 – An Ethiopian opposition party leader on Wednesday rejected the results of parliamentary elections which gave long-time ruler Meles Zenawi a landslide win and demanded a new poll.
"In view of the fact that both the election process and the voting day were not free and fair… AEUP has decided not to accept the result of the elections," said Hailu Shawl, the head of All Ethiopians Unity Party.
Hailu told reporters that the party had also decided to demand a re-run as its observers were beaten and driven away from polling stations across the country.
"We have asked the NEBE (electoral panel) to conduct both national and regional re-election of people\’s representatives as soon as possible," he added.
Hailu was the leader of the now-defunct Coalition for Unity and Democracy which made unprecedented wins in the 2005 elections whose results the party also disputed, sparking violence that killed some 200 people.
His All Ethiopian Unity Party is not part of the eight-member Medrek opposition coalition that hade been more visible in Ethiopia\’s electoral process and Sunday\’s elections.
He said the provisional results which showed the ruling EPRDF party had won 499 seats in results from 536 constituencies and Medrek only one in the capital Addis Ababa were not true.
"Look at the results, they don\’t look real. We\’ll wait for what the board says and decide what path to take," Hailu said. "Going to court is an option."
Medrek itself said Tuesday the electoral process was flawed, but one of its leaders ruled out street protests such as the ones five years ago which led bloodshed.
European Union observer mission also said the weekend polls were unfair, citing restricted political freedoms and use of state resources to by the ruling party.
The United States\’ top diplomat for Africa, Johnnie Carson, also said they had failed to meet international standards.
However Meles, who has ruled Africa\’s second most populous nation for nearly two decades, said the results sent a clear message to the opposition and warned them against causing any troubles.
"I believe that the people of Ethiopia… have unequivocally sent a clear message to the opposition parties in our country," he told tens of thousands of supporters who turned out Tuesday for a victory rally.
"They must accept the decision of our great and proud people and not become tools of external forces that don\’t have the right to act as the ultimate judges of our elections."