Ethiopians vote as opposition alleges irregularities

As counting of the vote began in Ethiopia on Monday, several opposition parties complained of irregularities and in some regions staged a boycott.

Nobel peace prize winner Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power promising sweeping reforms, lifting a ban on many political parties and releasing tens of thousands of political prisoners.

At a polling station he promised a fair election:

"You can see how it is a free and fair election, everybody is here for free and I hope it will be the best election in our history."

But human rights activists say his gains have been reversed, after reports of abuses and a looming famine in the war-ravaged northern region of Tigray.

In four of Ethiopia's 10 regions, authorities were unable to hold elections.

The election board chief said that in two of the regions that did vote, opposition observers were reportedly chased away from polling stations, and some polling agents were beaten and had their badges confiscated.

And that's not all, in different areas polling agents postponed the vote after less than half the ballot papers arrived, while others filed complaints of government intimidation and militia blocking party observers.

That intimidation pushed major opposition parties to boycott the vote in Ethiopia's most populous region, Oromiya.

Regional officials did not return calls seeking comment.

However, in other areas, including the capital, voting went peacefully.

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