Ethiopia on Wednesday launched its first activities geared towards its national elections which are scheduled to be held in 2010.

Ethiopia will hold its national election in May 2010 where over 50 political parties are expected to participate.

As part of the activities for the 2010 elections, the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) in collaboration with a local NGO-Ethiopian Prison Fellowship- convened Wednesday a consultation program with political parties to discuss how to make the forthcoming elections “free and fair”.

Professor Merga Bekana, head of NEBE said that the board was undertaking various activities to make the elections “free and fair”.

“By taking lessons from the previous elections, mainly from the 2005 national elections, the Board will continue to hold similar forums with political parties on how to make the forthcoming elections free and fair,” said Bekana.

He indicated that currently 89 political parties are registered in the country both at federal and regional levels.

In the May 2005 national elections, over 25 million people cast their votes. However, the 2005 elections brought violence in and around Addis Ababa in which over 100 people were killed.

The main opposition party- the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), which won close to 100 seats in the parliament boycotted parliament saying that there was fraud in the elections.

Since then, leaders of the party are divided, with some of the members taking up their seats in parliament while the other refused.

However, CUD and some of the other opposition parties are expected to participate in the 2010 elections.