Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Ethiopia to Heed EU Stance on Campaign Hate Speech

Ethiopian authorities said on Wednesday they take "very seriously" European Union concerns about virulent language being used by rival parties in the campaign for the country's weekend general elections.

The National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) said the concerns expressed by EU election observers in a letter last week will be addressed, but stressed that they did not single out the ruling party for criticism.

"It is not only directly aimed at the government, it also blames the opposition," NEBE chief Kemal Bedri said, referring to the May 4 letter sent by Ana Gomez, the head of the EU's election observation team in Ethiopia.

"Both are guilty of using language and images that are not appropriate, so they told us it is better to tone it down," he told reporters.

"Coming from the EU, we take it very seriously," Bedri said at a news conference.

In her letter, Gomez raised a number of concerns about the conduct of the campaign for Sunday's elections, notably government accusations that the opposition is promoting ethnic hatred that could flare into violence similar to what Rwanda saw in its 1994 genocide.

Mail & Guardian

Photo Courtesy: (AFP/File/Lea-Lisa Westerhoff)

Photo Courtesy: (AFP/File/Abraham Fisseha)

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