Ethiopia PM Abiy’s party wins landslide victory in election

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali during a press conference at Chigi Palace in Rome, Italy, 21 January 2019, Christian Minelli/ Getty Images

Ethiopia’s ruling Prosperity Party on Saturday was declared the winner of last month’s national election in a landslide, assuring a second five-year term for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

FILE PHOTO: Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali. (Photo by Christian Minelli/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The National Election Board of Ethiopia announced that the ruling party won 410 seats out of 436 contested in the federal parliament, which will see dozens of other seats remain vacant after one-fifth of constituencies didn’t vote due to unrest or logistical reasons. Ethiopia’s new government is expected to be formed in October.

The vote was a major test for Abiy, who came to power in April 2018 after the former prime minister resigned amid widespread protests. Abiy oversaw dramatic political reforms that led in part to a Nobel Peace Prize the following year, but critics say he is backtracking on political and media freedoms. Abiy also has drawn massive 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 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and logistical issues, was largely peaceful. No voting was held in the Tigray region.

The head of the electoral board, Birtukan Mideksa, said during Saturday’s announcement that the vote was held at a time when Ethiopia was experiencing challenges, “but this voting process has guaranteed that people will be governed through their votes,” she said. “I want to confirm that we have managed to conduct a credible election.”

Voter turnout was just over 90 percent among the more than 37 million people who had been registered to vote.

The Prosperity Party was formed after the dismantling of Ethiopia’s former ruling coalition.