Ethiopian vote count starts, though one state requires second day

Ethiopia Map

Voters in Ethiopia’s Sidama state are getting a second chance to cast ballots on Tuesday after officials there ran out of voting papers a day earlier, when most of the rest of the country voted for the country’s next legislature.

The second day of voting in Sidama started at 11 am (0800 GMT).

The head of Ethiopia’s electoral board, Birtukan Mideksa, told reporters late on Monday that there were no significant security problems witnessed during the election, though she noted some disturbances in the Amhara and Oromia regions.

She also noted some polling stations that didn’t open at all due to security fears.

“Generally, it was a peaceful election. There were no security or other challenges that could affect the outcome of the electoral process,” she said.

Some polling stations have started posting results. Preliminary results are expected within five days, and final ones are expected within two weeks.

An African Union observer mission, led by the former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, said election executives carried out their task despite logistical, security and Covid-19 threats.

“We have witnessed that the process was going smoothly,” Obasanjo told reporters on Monday.

There were 37.4 million people registered to vote in the country, which has a population of 110 million. Of 547 voting districts, 64 had to remain closed due to logistical or security problems.

Overall, the elections have been overshadowed by a harsh government crackdown in Tigray, where government troops put down a local uprising last year.

According to the UN, hundreds of thousands face starvation in the region because of the government’s efforts to assert control, which has relied heavily on cutting the region off from the outside world.

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