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Violence In Ethiopia


According to news reports, more than forty demonstrators were killed in Ethiopia, hundreds were wounded and thousands of people were arrested. Among those taken into custody were leaders of the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy party.

The party is challenging the parliamentary elections in May which Prime Minister Meles Zenawai's ruling Ethiopian People's Democracy Front, reportedly won. The opposition says that the results were fraudulent. Negotiations between the government and the opposition collapsed at the end of October.

Also detained are eight journalists, including Andualem Ayle of the weekly newspaper Ethiop and Nardos Meaza of Satanaw, another weekly. The Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent monitoring group, says "The [Ethiopian] government began a crackdown on independent media and threatened to charge some journalists with treason, an offense that carries the death penalty."

Vicki Huddleston is the acting U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia. She says the turmoil resulting from the disputed election is holding back progress:

"In the internal affairs of a nation, there's no divorce. You've got to listen to all the voices. To resolve the quarrels of the family and the quarrels of the nation, the way ahead is clearly through dialogue, through building trust and confidence, through a peaceful means, to a strong, democratic nation."

A joint statement released by the U.S. and the European Union "call[s] upon all political parties and the Ethiopian people to desist from further violence and to abide by the rule of law and the constitution." The statement says the Ethiopian government should end the use of lethal force, release political prisoners, and appoint a national board to investigate the May election.

Those belonging to the Ethiopian opposition, says the U.S. and European Union statement, should disassociate themselves from and discourage "actions that could directly or indirectly incite violence, harm individuals, or lead to the destruction of public and private property."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.

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