By Elizabeth Blunt – BBC News, Addis Ababa –Voting has begun in Ethiopia’s first elections since 2005, when the polling ended in violent protests and the arrest of most opposition leaders.
Local councils are being elected, as well as many of the seats in parliament which were won by the opposition CUD in 2005 and later declared vacant.
In many places, ruling EPRDF party candidates are running unopposed.
Opposition parties have complained of difficulties in registering candidates, and one party is boycotting the vote.
Last time the election had all the excitement of a hard fought contest; this time the mood is rather different.
This is an election which the ruling party – the EPRDF can not possibly lose.
From a staggering total of 3.75m candidates for offices at all levels, all but a few thousand support the government.
In many rural councils, whole slates of EPRDF candidates are standing completely unopposed.
Opposition parties say the difficulties in registering candidates is much worse than in 2005.
It was all very different then.
It was a lively election, covered by the most outspoken press Ethiopia had ever known.
Opposition candidates did far better than ever before.
Candidates fighting under the banner of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) won a landslide victory in Addis Ababa.
But the elections were followed by violent protests.
The opposition leaders were arrested and have spent most of the intervening period in jail and the more outspoken newspapers have been closed down.
Although the CUD leaders are now free, they have not been able to register a party in time to contest these elections.
Their old seats in parliament and on the city council, which are being re-run today, will now go to others, and many of them, given the lack of competition, are likely to revert to the ruling party.
Story from BBC NEWS: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/world/africa/7344936.stm