Ethiopia court rejects final poll result challenge

Tue Jul 20, 2010 3:22pm GMT

By Barry Malone

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Ethiopia's highest court on Tuesday rejected a case brought by the country's opposition against the ruling party's landslide May election victory, finally exhausting legal appeals for the defeated parties.

The ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and its allies won 545 seats in the 547-member parliament. Both a European Union observer mission and the United States criticised the overwhelming victory.

"The Cassation court rejected our appeal -- they say there are no substantial reasons to reconsider the result," Negaso Gidada, a leader of the biggest opposition coalition, Medrek, told Reuters. "Legally, that was the final step."

The country's Court of Cassation had the power to overturn a previous Supreme Court ruling that the opposition did not have enough evidence to force a rerun.

Ethiopia's National Electoral Board (NEBE) has also rejected an opposition appeal for lack of evidence, though Medrek says it submitted a dossier of complaints.

Medrek and other opposition parties alleged widespread pre-poll intimidation during a campaign in which both sides claimed candidates and activists were murdered. Medrek also said there was some vote rigging.

Eight-party Medrek won just a single parliamentary seat in the poll. The other seat went to an independent candidate.


<p>Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi addresses the media inside his office in the capital Addis Ababa September 16, 2009. REUTERS/Irada Humbatova</p>
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