Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's ruling Prosperity Party has gained a "historic" victory in landmark parliamentary elections held last month, despite a bloody war in the northern region of Tigray.
Chairperson of the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) overseeing the country's parliamentary elections announced on Saturday that Abiy's party has won 410 out of 436 parliament seats.
“This election took place at an uneasy time, when the country is going through a lot and through a transition,” Birtukan Mideksa, the election board’s chairwoman said at a ceremony in the capital, Addis Ababa.
NEBE's top official, a former political prisoner who went into exile in the US, emphasized that the elections had taken place at a time when “security is a concern and when citizens are worried.”
Abiy hailed the outcome of what he described as a "historic" election. This outcome gives him a popular mandate to pursue his reform plans for five more years in the Horn of Africa country of 110 million people.
Abiy's party faced a fragmented opposition of dozens of mostly ethnically-based parties.
Opposition leader Berhanu Nega said his Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice party (Ezema) had filed 207 complaints after local officials and militiamen blocked observers in the Amhara region and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' region.
Ezema and the National Movement of Amhara (NAMA) each won less than 10 seats.
Voting in the Harar and Somali regions was delayed until September over security concerns and problems with ballot papers.
The election was held in the midst of the grueling conflict in Tigray, which has damaged Abiy’s global reputation and raised fears of widespread famine and human rights violations.
The Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), which had dominated the governing coalition before Abiy took power in 2019, refused to recognize Abiy. TPLF leaders complained of being sidelined by Abiy and openly defied his authority.
In September 2020, TPLF held its own elections in the northern Tigray region despite Addis Ababa insisting against it.
In November, Abiy accused the TPLF of orchestrating attacks on federal army troops based in Tigray and ordered federal troops to head to Tigray to take over the region. Abiy eventually declared a unilateral ceasefire in Tigray at the end of last month in the face of advances by the armed rebels.
Human rights organizations have warned of a humanitarian crisis unfolding in Tigray.
Ethiopia's federal troops and Eritrean soldiers fighting alongside Abiy's troops against the TPLF forces have been accused of mass rape and ethnic cleansing in Tigray.