The opposition formally rejected the outcome of the election today (Wednesday) and called for a new election.  The government flatly rejected the idea.

Formal election results will not be certified until some time in June.  Meles and his ruling party have won about 99% of the seats in Parliament.  The city of Addis Ababa, which the opposition swept in 2005, ‘gave’ 20 of 23 seats to Meles this time.  I’m not sure of the exact number of seats held by the opposition, but the 99% figure has been widely reported and not denied by the government.  1% is about 5-6 seats out of 547.

With each new comment, the head of the EU observer team backs further away from his first statement that it was a generally acceptable election.  There are rumors in Addis that he was ‘blackmailed’ into giving a favorable statement, with Meles (in person, according to one version of the story) threatening to interfere with EU aid programs, which would harm millions of the most vulnerable Ethiopians.  Supporting but not proving that the story is accurate, the EU chief was quoted by Bloomberg News that he hoped not to complicate EU access for delivery of aid.  This should have had nothing to do with election monitoring, of course.

Two opposition memberswere killed outside of Addis on Tuesday, in the Oromo region.  If there is going to be violence, it is likely to start here, in Oromia.  The Oromos have lost most of the small number of Parliament members they had.

The State Department made a few critical comments about the election.  Unexpectedly, the National Security Council was more critical. The surprise was that the NSC said anything at all instead of leaving it to State, as it usually does.  The NSC speaks directly for the White House and by implication for the president.  State can be forgiven for not being more assertive, I suppose, with Sec. Clinton in China and the Korea war threat to deal with.

The US has long needed to review its Ethiopia policy, but it can’t be done without participation from the top and approval from the White House.  A hasty, improvised new policy without the full commitment of the Administration would lead to trouble in the long run.