By Aaron Maasho
ADDIS ABABA, June 22 (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s ruling party has swept all but one seat in the election to the 547-seat parliament held in May, final results showed on Monday, again crushing an opposition that complained of voting abuses.
Voting for the last seat was delayed after clashes between backers of an independent and those supporting the candidate of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). But the EPRDF is expected to win that too.
Merga Bekana, the electoral board chairman, declared the final tally, barring the last seat, at a news conference.
The opposition secured just one seat in the last parliament, after winning an unprecedented 147 seats in the 2005 election, which was marred by violence. The opposition did not take up their seats after that vote, saying the poll was rigged.
Opposition activists have accused the authorities of irregularities and squeezing them out of politics in this latest and previous votes, a charge government officials dismiss.
“The election was coordinated in a free, fair, peaceful, credible and democratic manner,” Merga said, adding turnout was 93.2 percent of the 36.8 million registered voters. Ethiopia’s population is 96 million.
Opposition groups such as the Medrek coalition and Semayawi party said last month they would reject the results, citing harassment and abuse of their candidates.
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and his party have touted the government’s success in delivering one of Africa’s fastest growing economies. Rights groups say the government stamps out dissent and jails bloggers and journalists.
(Writing by Edmund Blair and George Obulutsa; Editing by Tom Heneghan)