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Saturday, April 30, 2005

Ethiopia Opposition Accuses State of Abuse

Ethiopia's largest opposition group accused security forces on Wednesday of killing eight of their supporters and arresting 240 during a campaign to scare their supporters ahead of May 15 elections.

The group of five parties and coalitions said it was also concerned that the government of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi may try to rig the results of the polls in the country of almost 70 million, which his party is widely favoured to win.

Hailu Shawel, chairman of the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy, told a joint news conference held with the other four main groupings that they would not bow to threats.

"We would like to tell the ruling party that we are not the running type. If the worst comes we are ready to die for our principles and causes," he said.

There was no immediate reaction from the government, which has always denied harassing opposition members.

A statement issued by the grouping said government militia were killing, beating or arresting people who refused to denounce opposition parties and join the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front.

"We are not here to conspire, to boycott the election. What we are demanding is that the government stops its supporters obstructing the election process and rectifies the situation, which makes peaceful campaigning impossible," said Beyene Pedros, vice-chairperson of the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces, one of the five parties in the group.

IOL: Africa

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