May 30, 2005


Democracy gains in Ethiopia, a key US ally in terror war: Initial results Monday show opposition parties have won at least 174 seats, up from 12. (Abraham McLaughlin, 5/31/05, The Christian Science Monitor)

In a sign of strengthening democracy in one of Africa's historically repressive countries - and a US ally in the war on terror - opposition parties in Ethiopia have increased their power in parliament to at least 174 seats, from just 12.

The nation's first relatively free and fair election was held May 15, with 90 percent of the country's 26 million registered voters casting ballots. Preliminary results, released Monday, gave the ruling party a majority of at least 274 seats in the 547-seat parliament. Final results could be announced June 8.

The campaign included surprising signs of openness: massive opposition rallies being allowed in the capital; coverage of the opposition in government-controlled media; and, for the first time ever, more than 300 international observers being invited in to watch the vote. [...]

The ruling party - the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, which is led by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi - has won all three elections since overthrowing a brutal Marxist dictator, Mengistu Haile Mariam, in 1991.

Having a stronger opposition in parliament could further increase pressure on the government to deliver basic goods and services, like food and housing, to the country's 73 million people.

Remember when being our ally against an ism meant you didn't have to liberalize yourself?

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 30, 2005 11:45 PM

I'm not sure that expecting the government to deliver "food and housing" to the citizenry is much of a liberalization.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at May 31, 2005 2:19 PM
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