Ethiopia's ruling party has won a national election, according to provisional results.
Merga Bekana, Ethiopia’s electoral board chairman, announced the results on Monday, saying that the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) won a majority of votes from nine of 11 regions that have reported results.
Bekana said the party also is ahead in 20 of the capital's 23 parliamentary seats, with only two left to report results in the capital, Addis Ababa.
There are 546 assembly seats in all.
The EPRDF also crushed an eight-party opposition coalition known as Medrek, in the Horn of Africa nation's largest region, Oromia, which has been a stronghold of opponents.
"Definitely, at this point the EPRDF has won, definitely," Bekana said.
A victory for EPRDF would extend the time in office of Meles Zenawi, the Ethiopian prime minister, to nearly 25 years.
Peaceful and calm
Observers from the European Union said Sunday's poll was peaceful and calm, albeit with some claims of irregularities that needed to be checked.
They said the election showed Ethiopian citizens wanted their democratic rights espected.
However, New York-based Human Rights Watch had criticised Sunday's vote as corrupted by pre-election irregularities, including telling voters they could lose food assistance, public-sector jobs, loans and educational opportunities if they voted against the ruling party.
Zenawi told the Reuters news agency in an interview on Sunday his party would win as it had presided over seven years of double-digit growth and had begun to reform the political and judicial landscape.
While nearly 10 per cent of the population relied on emergency food aid last year, the government has invested heavily in infrastructure and Meles now wants to step up power production, improve telecommunications and develop industry.
Analysts said there was less chance of violence in this year's polls because many opposition supporters believed they had little hope of winning and the 2005 riots were crushed.
The 2005 poll descended into deadly riots when the opposition said it was cheated of victory after a campaign which captured the imagination of many.