Abiy Ahmed wins landslide victory in Ethiopian election

Ethiopia’s ruling Prosperity party has been declared the winner of last month’s national election in a landslide, assuring a second term for the prime minister, Abiy Ahmed.

The National Election Board of Ethiopia announced on Saturday night that the ruling party won 410 seats out of 436 in the federal parliament, which will see some seats remain vacant because no vote was held as a result of unrest or logistical reasons.

The vote was a test for Abiy, who came to power in April 2018 after the former prime minister resigned amid widespread protests. Abiy oversaw dramatic political reforms, but critics say he is backtracking from some promises on political and media freedoms. He also has drawn intense international criticism for his handling of the conflict in the Tigray region has that left thousands of people dead.

June’s vote, which had been postponed twice because of the Covid-19 pandemic and logistical problems, was largely peaceful, but opposition parties decried harassment and intimidation.

Abiy hailed the election as the Ethiopia’s first attempt at a free and fair vote, but the US has called it “significantly flawed”, citing the detention of some opposition figures and insecurity in parts of Africa’s second most populous country.

The leader of the main opposition Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice party, Birhanu Nega, lost, while opposition parties won just 11 seats.

The Prosperity party was formed after the dismantling of Ethiopia’s former ruling coalition. Disagreements over that decision signalled the first tensions between Abiy and Tigray leaders that finally led to the conflict erupting in November.