Ethiopians have started voting in regional and parliamentary elections, despite worsening ethnic tensions along with conflict and hunger in the north.
The polls were supposed to have been held last August but were delayed – officials blamed the coronavirus pandemic.
It is the first test of the popular vote for the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, and his Prosperity Party since he took power in 2018.
Nearly a fifth of the constituencies are not taking part in the election because of insecurity and irregularities.
They include the whole of the northern Tigray region where civil war has prompted a humanitarian crisis.
The military and police patrols here reflect the tensions in Ethiopia, which are overshadowing this election
In western Oromia the government is battling a growing insurgency.
And in Tigray – rebels as well as the government and its allies from neighbouring Eritrea are accused of carrying out massacres against civilians.
The United Nations has warned that over 350,000 people are living in famine conditions in Tigray, because of the war.
Ethiopia is a country of nations and ethnicities forged together. Increasingly, many of them are pushing for greater autonomy.
With this election, Mr Abiy is offering the idea of Ethiopia first – before individual differences. He’s hoping the country will support this vision.
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