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Ethiopia votes in greatest electoral test yet for Abiy

Ethiopia was voting on Monday in the greatest electoral test yet for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as insecurity and logistical issues meant ballots wouldn't be cast in more than 100 constituencies of the 547 across the country.

The election is the centerpiece of a reform drive by Abiy, whose rise to power in 2018 seemed to signal a break with decades of authoritarian rule and led to his Nobel Peace Prize the following year. He has described the poll as “the nation’s first attempt at free and fair elections.”

Abiy’s ruling Prosperity Party, formed in 2019 by merging groups who made up the previous ruling coalition, is widely expected to cement its hold on power. The party that wins a majority of seats in the House of Peoples’ Representatives will form the next government.

Electoral workers deliver ballot boxes in the rain to a polling station at a primary school, past a national flag, left, in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Sunday, June 20, 2021. The country is due to vote in a general election on Monday, the centerpiece of a reform drive by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. (AP PhotoBen Curtis)

Opposition groups have accused Ethiopia’s ruling party of harassment, manipulation and threats of violence that echo abuses of the past.

And Abiy is facing growing international criticism over the war in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region. No date has been set for voting in Tigray’s 38 constituencies.

Electoral workers deliver ballot boxes to a polling station in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Sunday, June 20, 2021. The country is due to vote in a general election on Monday, the centerpiece of a reform drive by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. (AP PhotoBen Curtis)