Addis Ababa, Jun 21 (EFE).- Ethiopians head to polls Monday to vote in key elections overshadowed by ongoing fighting in the northern region of Tigray.
Voters will elect 547 members of the federal parliament, with which Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed hopes to win a majority to secure his hold on power.
Security forces personnel with heavy weapons and military vehicles, as well as riot police units, were deployed throughout the country’s more than 44,000 polling stations.
Only 37.4 million Ethiopians are eligible to vote, a low figure for Africa’s second-most populous country with 110 million inhabitants.
In a Facebook post, Ahmed urged voters to head to the polls, saying the authorities had taken the necessary measures to guarantee their safety.
“I encourage all citizens to be vigilant of their surroundings as they go out to cast their vote tomorrow and also be assured that the government has made adequate investments and preparations for a peaceful and democratic Election Day,” said the Nobel Peace Prize laureate on Sunday.
These elections are a test for the country’s prime minister since coming to power after the resignation of Hailemariam Desalegn in 2018.
Although it has been called the most democratic elections in Ethiopia’s history, the vote is conducted amid a government crackdown on Tigray since November that has left thousands of people dead and more than two million others internally displaced so far.
Two major opposition parties in the Oromia region called for the boycott of the elections, protesting the imprisonment of their leaders.