Ethiopian opposition says electoral body blocks party registration

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 09, 2015 2:13 PM

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Ethiopia's sole opposition member of parliament said on Friday the country's electoral board had turned down all four election logos his party had submitted, preventing it from registering for the May election.

Girma Seifu said his Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ) and the board had been haggling over the logo for months.

"From the very beginning, (government) activities have not

been free and fair," Girma said.

"They do not want us to participate. It is a tactic."

Girma said however that the UDJ would not boycott the poll.

No electoral board or government spokesperson was immediately available to comment.

The Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, a coalition of four regional parties, has been in power since toppling military dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991.

Dissidents and rights groups say the government routinely cracks down on activists and journalists. The government denies this.

Opposition candidates won an unprecedented 174 out of 547 parliamentary seats in a 2005 election but many did not take them up, saying the vote was rigged, and the violence which followed that poll killed 200 people.

The opposition performed far less well in the 2010 election.

Authorities began registering voters on Friday.

(Reporting by Aaron Maasho; Editing by Duncan Miriri and Louise Ireland)