A leading member of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) said Thursday the party will continue to work with all opposition groups to strengthen the country’s growing democracy.
Sekou Toure told VOA most Ethiopians are surprised that the opposition parties are demanding a re-run of Sunday’s election after the electoral board addressed all of their concerns before the vote.
“We have seen the preliminary results and it seems that people are giving us additional five years to do our developmental and democratic activities,” he said.
Ethiopia’s National Electoral Board (NEBE) announced Tuesday that the ruling EPRDF won 499 out of the 547 parliamentary seats. But, two of the largest opposition groups rejected the results and called for a new vote.
EPRDF official Toure said the ruling party will continue with policies aimed at improving the lives of Ethiopians.
“Our program is well crafted to benefit all ranks of our society. We are not only working for the sectors of society who are well-to-do, but we are also committed to work for the masses of the people. Eighty-five percent of the people are living in the rural areas in very poor conditions so we have worked a lot to change this situation in the rural areas,” Toure said.
He also expressed confidence that Ethiopians will extend the mandate of the ruling party in future elections if the government continues with its developmental policies.
Before last weekend’s vote, several opposition parties accused the ruling party of intimidation and harassment calculated to undermine their campaigns ahead of the election.
But, Toure dismissed the accusations as without merit. He said the EPRDF has no policies to stifle the opposition from playing an “important” role in Ethiopia’s fledgling democracy.
“Since the 2005 election, we have worked together with the opposition political parties. We have re-visited the electoral law, we have made progress by creating new parliamentary procedures, where these opposition political parties additional opportunities to express themselves,” Toure said.
Washington said Ethiopia’s election failed to meet international standards. The European Union said, while the vote was peaceful, the electoral process was biased in favor of the ruling party. Human rights groups said the government took steps to ensure it would score a clear victory.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has urged the international community to respect the ruling party’s victory in last Sunday’s vote.