World

Ethiopians vote in 1st election since 2012 death of former strongman Meles Zenawi

  • Voters queue early in the morning to cast their votes in Ethiopia's general election, Sunday May 24, 2015, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Ethiopians voted Sunday in national and regional elections, the country's first since the 2012 death of its longtime leader, but the ruling party is expected to maintain its iron-clad grip on power. (AP Photo/Mulugeata Ayene)

    Voters queue early in the morning to cast their votes in Ethiopia's general election, Sunday May 24, 2015, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Ethiopians voted Sunday in national and regional elections, the country's first since the 2012 death of its longtime leader, but the ruling party is expected to maintain its iron-clad grip on power. (AP Photo/Mulugeata Ayene)  (The Associated Press)

  • A woman casts her vote in Ethiopia's general election in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sunday, May 24, 2015. Ethiopians voted Sunday in national and regional elections, the country's first since the 2012 death of its longtime leader, but the ruling party is expected to maintain its iron-clad grip on power. (AP Photo/Mulugeata Ayene)

    A woman casts her vote in Ethiopia's general election in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sunday, May 24, 2015. Ethiopians voted Sunday in national and regional elections, the country's first since the 2012 death of its longtime leader, but the ruling party is expected to maintain its iron-clad grip on power. (AP Photo/Mulugeata Ayene)  (The Associated Press)

  • Election officials verify voters' cards as people wait to vote in Ethiopia's general election, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sunday May 24, 2015. Ethiopians voted Sunday in national and regional elections, the country's first since the 2012 death of its longtime leader, but the ruling party is expected to maintain its iron-clad grip on power. (AP Photo/Mulugeata Ayene)

    Election officials verify voters' cards as people wait to vote in Ethiopia's general election, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sunday May 24, 2015. Ethiopians voted Sunday in national and regional elections, the country's first since the 2012 death of its longtime leader, but the ruling party is expected to maintain its iron-clad grip on power. (AP Photo/Mulugeata Ayene)  (The Associated Press)

Ethiopians have started voting in national and regional elections, the country's first since the death in 2012 of longtime leader Meles Zenawi.

More than 38 million voters are eligible to cast ballots in this East African nation of about 90 million people.

Hailemariam Desalegn, a former university professor turned politician, has been leading the country since the death of Meles, who built the ruling coalition into a powerful political organization while opposition groups complained of persecution. He is expected to remain in power.

Only one opposition lawmaker won a seat in Ethiopia's 547-seat parliament in the 2010 election, which watchdog groups said was marred by intimidation and the harassment of opposition activists.

Those allegations have persisted for this election.