Foreign Office Minister Henry Bellingham said:
“I welcome the fact that the Ethiopian elections, which took place on 23 May, were conducted in a peaceful environment and that the Ethiopian people turned out to vote in large numbers. I call on all parties to continue to reject violence.
“I note the preliminary statement issued by the European Union Election Observation Mission (EOM), which is well-placed to give an independent, impartial assessment of the Ethiopian elections.
“The EOM highlighted some positive improvements in the run up to elections, in particular the establishment of the Electoral Code of Conduct, and noted the efficient administration by the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia.
“However, I share the EOM’s concern that there has been a narrowing of political space in recent years, including restrictions on civil society, resulting in an uneven playing field for parties. This created an environment in which freedoms of expression, assembly and association were too often denied.
“I await the EOM’s full report. In the interests of strengthening and accelerating Ethiopia’s democratic transition, I encourage the Government of Ethiopia, the National Election Board and all political parties to: reflect on the assessments of independent observers; build on positive developments; and address the shortcomings identified.”
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