Prime Minister Meles Zenawi pledges power handover if opposition wins 2010 election
Dec. 15 2009
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has pledged to hand over power to the opposition if the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) loses majority seats during the May, 2010 elections.
"If the EPRDF doesn't win adequate (parliamentary) seats, it will hand over power. It cannot work together with opposition parties, which have a completely different objective," the Ethiopian Prime Minister told a news conference late on Friday. s
Ethiopia is bracing for elections in May 2010 expected to provide a critical barometer to the East African nation's level of stability following the post-election violence that followed the 2005 parliamentary elections, which saw the ruling party retain a majority.
Prime Minister Zenawi, who was handed another term at the helm of the EPRDF, which he had led for over 19 years, said his party would not embrace power sharing with the opposition if it failed to garner a convincing parliamentary majority during the May polls.
"What has been done in Kenya and Zimbabwe is they tried to eliminate the ruling party from power through chaos and when they failed, they said they had established a coalition government. This does not work here," Zenawi said.
Kenya slid to anarchy after President Mwai Kibaki's Party of National Unity (PNU) garnered about 250,000 votes over the current Prime Minister Raila Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) in the December 2007 presidential elections.
Odinga's supporters who staged street riots in major cities contested the razor-thin victory by President Kibaki but the riots soon turned into a series of carefully pre-planned killings mainly in the Rift Valley, targeting Kibaki's supporters.
The International Criminal Court, based at The Hague, has launched investigations into the widespread killings there and possible crimes against humanity.
In Zimbabwe, a second run-off vote was called after President Robert Mugabe failed to garner a commanding lead during the first round vote. The oppos ition boycotted the run-off vote.
Zenawi, who was briefing journalists on Africa's preparations for the UN Climate Change talks under way in Copenhagen, said his government was investing in putting in place adequate security arrangements to ensure that the armed groups did not hijack the polls. "Some may believe in the need for foreign pressure to ensure that the government holds democratic elections. We do not need any pressure from outside," he added.
He said the government was ready to ensure that the 2005 post-election chaos did not re-occur.