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Ethiopia's electoral board welcomes 'impressive turnout'

A polling station in capital city Addis Ababa   -  
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Ben Curtis/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved


Vote counting in Ethiopia was still under way on Tuesday following Monday's parliamentary elections.

National Election Board of Ethiopia's Solyana Shimeles told reporters the turnout was impressive, but declined to give figures.

"We have done with the election day yesterday and which was largely peaceful except for two polling stations where we had some incidents, one is like in Oromia region where our poll workers reported that they had been threatened so they left poling station on midday and that was it. The other incident was in Amhara region, where individuals, who were in the line, were fighting each other so polling was disruptred for some time," NEBE spokeswoman Solyana Shimeles said.

But other than those two polling stations, some 110, a fifth of the East African nation's, could not allow voters to participate in the elections, as a result of the ongoing war in Tigray, logistical issues and insecurity. 

Nevertheless, those who could vote said they were happy to go to the polls.

"The elections Ethiopia used to hold were not that fair in the past, because the regime was a dictatorship. It was difficult to hold free and fair elections, even though that administration claimed to be free and fair. This time around, is very transparent, that makes me happy. The procedure was very nice," Geremew Ararsa said after casting his vote.

In a statement published on social media, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed welcomed the "nation's first free and fair election". 

Abiy was facing voters for the first time since coming to power in 2018, and his ruling party is expected to secure a comfortable majority.

"Pictures are a thousand words and they show the earnestness, commitment to peace and the democratic process, by our people," he said on Twitter.

However some opposition parties lodged complaints, alleging voting interference and intimidation of their observers at polling stations.

The results should be published in the next few days.

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