Ethiopia

Ethiopia: Ruling coalition close to winning disputed polls

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ADDIS ABABA, 27 Jul 2005 (IRIN) - Ethiopia's ruling coalition was on Tuesday just eleven seats short of a majority that would enable it to form a new government, according to official results of the disputed 15 May elections.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front and allied groups had won 263 of the 435 seats announced by the National Election Board, officials said.

The main opposition group, the Coalition for Unity and Democracy, had won 108 seats in the 547-seat parliament, while another opposition group - the United Ethiopian Democratic Front - had won 51.

The chairman of the election board, Kemal Bedri, also announced that the country would repeat elections in 15 constituencies on 21 August, eight of them following complaints by the ruling party and four from opposition groups.

He told a news conference the completion of more investigations was expected in the next two weeks, but said there was no official date set for the final release of results that would show which party had won the elections.

Elections for 23 seats in the remote Somali region are scheduled for 21 August.

The elections - the third ever in Ethiopia's history - were marred by widespread allegations of fraud. Protests left at least 40 people dead when security forces allegedly opened fire on stone-throwing demonstrators.

Opposition parties have criticised the investigations into alleged fraud and threatened a boycott of parliament in September. The government, on the other hand, says the opposition is trying to undermine the credibility of the election board.

[ENDS]

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