Ethiopia postpones vote in two regions citing irregularities

National Electoral Board of Ethiopia Chairperson, Birtukan Mideksa attends a news conference on the preparation of the upcoming National Election in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia June 10, 2021. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Ethiopia’s electoral board announced on Thursday that elections in two regional states would be postponed, citing irregularities and problems with the printing of ballot papers.

The chairwoman of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), said that Harar and Somali regions would cast their vote in September.

"For some constituencies the election will be done in a second round on September 6," Birtukan Mideksa told reporters in the capital Addis Ababa.

The nation of 109 million people - which has 37.4 million registered voters - will hold national and regional parliamentary elections in two weeks, in what might lead to the country's first democratic transfer of power.

Voting will not take place either in the northern conflict-torn Tigray region, where hundreds of thousands of people are suffering from famine. A new date for a vote in Tigray has not been set.

Together the three regions account for 63 out of 547 parliamentary seats.

Ethiopia's elections were originally scheduled for August 2020 but Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed postponed them due to COVID-19.

Earlier this month the board said the vote would not be held in 78 out of the 547 constituencies, due to logistical and security problems.

(Reporting by Dawit Endeshaw; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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