National Election Board rejects a call for re-run

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Ethiopia's electoral body has rejected calls for a re-run of parliamentary polls by opposition groups saying claims of fraud  were not backed up by evidence, an official told AFP Wednesday. Four parties, including the main opposition bloc Medrek, have claimed the May 23 vote was riddled with fraud and complained their observers and supporters were subject to intimidation and harassment.

"Their appeal for a re-run has been rejected by the National Electoral Board because it was unjustified and they didn't provide any proof," vice chairman Addisu Gebregziabher told AFP, adding the parties were informed of this decision on Tuesday. "We had representatives at each of the tens of thousands of polling stations that were open on May 23 and none of them confirmed the opposition claims," Addisu said.

Opposition members accused the body of bias.

"This shows they are fully implicated" in the fraud Medrek's vice chairman Merara Gudina told AFP. "Our observers were blocked and detained. Even the European Union observation team has confirmed that our watchers were not present in 50 percent of areas, which means that the counting was carried out by ruling party members" he added. Merara said his party was weighing up the options open to it."We haven't come to a decision yet, but the likelihood is we will go to court. We want to test all the legal institutions," he said.

Provisional results from the vote saw longstanding Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front win 499 seats, in results from 536 constituencies. Meles, who has led Ethiopia since 1991, had been widely expected to win in the face of a weak opposition and after months of what rights groups described as shrinking political freedoms. Both the European Union observer mission and the United States have said the polls did not meet international standards.  Source (AFP)
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