Ethiopia's Meles urges recognition of poll win

Tue May 25, 2010 1:00pm GMT

By Barry Malone and David Clarke

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi urged foreign nations on Tuesday to respect his landslide election win and told the opposition they would be consulted on decisions of national concern.

The country's electoral board told state television the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and allies had won 477 seats out of 479 declared, giving Meles an overwhelming majority in the 547-member parliament.

"Even if you don't have seats in parliament we promise to consult you on issues of national concern. We consider you an important part of this renaissance," Meles said, reaching out to opposition leaders at a victory rally in Addis Ababa.

Meles told tens of thousands of cheering supporters that foreign forces could not overturn the outcome of the poll in this Horn of Africa nation and key Washington ally and warned against any post-election bloodshed.

A European Union observer mission, however, said the election was marred by the EPRDF's use of state resources for campaigning, putting the opposition at a disadvantage ahead of the vote, but this did not mean the count itself was invalid.

"Everyone was equal, but some were more equal than others," chief observer Thijs Berman told a news conference, saying the poll fell short of some international standards.

"The European Union observation mission considers that the playing field for the 2010 election was not sufficiently balanced, leaning in favour of the ruling party in many areas."

Western diplomats are watching closely to see how the opposition will react after many of its senior leaders lost their seats in the parliamentary victory for Meles, who is looking to foreign investors to help accelerate development.   Continued...

<p>Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi talks during an interview with Reuters inside his plane after casting his ballot in the northern Ethiopian town of Adwa, his constituency and birthplace, 985 km (612 miles) from the capital Addis Ababa, May 23, 2010. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya</p>
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