Results in Ethiopia’s divisive parliamentary election started to trickle in on Thursday in the nation’s most populous regions of Amhara and Oromia.
The National Election Board of Ethiopia updated the winning parties and candidates for administrative districts in the two regions, and posted the update on Twitter.
No official delay has been announced in the the country’s sixth national election, that was held on the backdrop of a ruinous civil war.
Ethiopians cast their votes for 547 federal parliament members on June 21, with the leader of the winning party becoming the next prime minister.
The twice-delayed vote was due to be held in August 2020 but was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Voting was also postponed until September in 64 constituencies, many of them in the Amhara and Oromia regions, where officials say they were unable to hold voter registration.
The two regions, home to the country’s largest ethnic groups the Oromo and the Amhara, share a border where attacks on civilians from either side have been rising in recent months.
No votes were cast in the northern Tigray region, where the government has declared a unilateral ceasefire following eight months of fighting.
No date has yet been set for the vote to take place in the region’s 38 constituencies.
Abiy Ahmed billed the election as the country’s “first attempt at free and fair elections.” But with voting delayed across the country due to security and logistical challenges, analysts say the election is incomplete.
At the same time, opposition parties in Ethiopia’s most populous province, Oromia, boycotted the vote over alleged intimidation by regional security forces. Local elections were also pushed back meaning that the ruling party will maintain its grip on local government even if opposition parties make progress in the national polls.
Tigrayan forces announced they had seized full control of the regional capital Mekelle on Tuesday, as government forces retreated from the city and declared a unilateral ceasefire.
The Ethiopian government ousted the northern region’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in November, triggering a devastating civil war.
“This unilateral ceasefire declaration starts from today June 28, 2021 and will stay until the farming season ends,” a statement released by the federal government and carried by state media said. Ethiopia’s planting season runs from May to September.
A spokesman for the TPLF rejected the ceasefire offer calling it a “sick joke”, raising fears of further violence.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Getachew Reda said “we’ll stop at nothing to liberate every square inch” of the Tigray region.