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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Election Fever Hits Ethiopian Cities

Opposition supporter
Photo Courtesy: BBC News

Passers-by stopped in the street to give each other the V-for-victory sign which has come to symbolise one of Ethiopia's main opposition parties, the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD).

Election fever hit Ethiopia last weekend as hundreds of thousands took to the streets ahead of the country's third multi-party general elections on Sunday.

But it is quite a different picture in some of the more rural areas, where finding enough food to eat is most people's priority.

Supporters of the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) packed into Meskel Square in the heart of the capital, Addis Ababa, on Saturday.

On Sunday it was the opposition's turn.

Huge groups ran through the streets shouting and singing, waving flags and banners.

One opposition supporter said: "In our country there are many problems - that's why so many people are taking part in this rally.

"It is time to take down this government. We have lived with this government for 14 years and it does not represent the country, it does not represent the people."

At Dodata feeding centre near the city of Harar, 400km east of the capital, the election was the last thing on anyone's mind.

An appeal by the UN children's agency this week said that 163,000 children across the country were severely malnourished and could die within days without immediate assistance.

All their mothers can think about is keeping those children alive.

One woman told me she didn't even know there was an election.

BBC News

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