On one point all sides agree: there was no bloodshed today when Ethiopia voted.  The Election Board says that results will begin to be announced as they are tabulated and certified, beginning tomorrow, Monday.

There is little agreement on anything else.

The government claims that there was a huge turnout.  Anecdotal reports from Ethiopia by email named towns and polling places where there were no lines of voters by mid morning.  In 2005, a turnout of about 29 million, smaller than the 32 million voters claimed by the government today, stood in lines well past midnight.  Could the turnout have been that big today?

The European Union had 140 observers to cover 43,000 polling places.  Since they probably did not go singly to every site they visited, a generous estimate of the number of polling places they observed might be has high as 500.  Estimate generously that the 40 African Union observers visited a few hundred more.   The number of polling places observed, and many for a short time if one observer traveled to several sites, would have barely have reached 5% of the total.

The EU said that the election went well, though candor should have elicited a comment on how little of their information was first hand, and how much was given to them by the government.  The statement mentioned some ‘irregularities’ that would be investigated, but by and large they Europeans endorsed the legitimacy of the balloting process.  I have seen no statement yet from the African Union observers.

The Voice of America said that there had been a record turnout, but since there were no American observers they had to rely entirely on what the government told them.

Personnel from all the embassies in Addis Ababa were banned from traveling outside of the city during the election, so no independent verification of the government’s claims from that source are possible.

Claims of voter intimidation and interference, destruction of election posters, etc. by the opposition were loud and widespread. While that would be consistent with campaign interference, these election day claims have not yet been unverified.

It is fair to say that so far the reports in the international media have come almost entirely from government statements and from the limited personal observations of the small number of foreign observers, who were able to visit only a small percent of the voting sites.

Over the coming days we can expect to hear more detailed complaints from the opposition and denials of any interference from the government.  The foreign observers may yet provide new, first hand information. Since the government successfully blocked the presence of more that a few independent witnesses, it will remain difficult or impossible to separate truth from fiction regarding the number of voters and the use of harsh tactics to interfere with voters.

Will there be any ‘aftershocks’ in the coming days?  Early reports suggest that so far the mood in the country is quiet.  There is little celebrating, but there are no stories of angry gatherings.  The opposition has explicitly stated that it wants to avoid violence.  The presence of security forces in the streets is also an extra deterrent.