Ethiopia holds a vital, flawed election
Ethiopians went to the polls on Monday in long-delayed elections. Well, some did. Millions were prevented from voting due to security or logistical concerns, and others boycotted the vote, citing the repression of opposition parties.
Why it matters: Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has won a Nobel Peace Prize and launched a war that has devolved into ethnic cleansing — all without having been elected. This election had been seen as a chance for him to gain democratic legitimacy and Ethiopia to hold its first free and fair election.
- But there will be no votes cast in Tigray, where a war is raging on after seven months, and voting was postponed in two other regions.
- In Ethiopia’s largest region, Oromia, the leading opposition parties are boycotting the vote.
- Abiy’s Prosperity Party is almost certain to win.
The big picture: Abiy took power in 2018 promising new political freedoms and espousing a vision of an Ethiopia defined by national rather than ethnic or regional identity.
- But with that period of liberalization came intense unrest, and Abiy has clamped back down. He once symbolized the end of authoritarian rule, but some fear he’s now reestablishing it.