People across Ethiopia lined up outside polling stations on Monday to vote in elections that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed called “free and fair.”
Elections are being held in the context of war and famine in the northern Tigray region, and Abiy faces growing international criticism for his treatment of internal struggles.
Residents of the capital Addis Ababa described the event as “a decisive day for Ethiopia” and hoped for a “government that will bring us peace, unity and stop murder everywhere.”
The elections, which were delayed last year, are the centerpiece of a reform driven by Abiy, the rise to power in 2018 seemed to indicate a break with decades of authoritarian rule and led to his Nobel Prize in peace the following year.
Opposition groups have accused Ethiopia’s ruling party of harassment, manipulation and threats of violence that echo past abuses.
No date has been set for voting in Tigray, where the government has been fighting since November with the region’s former ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. The United Nations says some 350,000 people are starving there.