Sunday, May 08, 2005

Ethiopian Opposition Rallies Ahead of Election

Photo Courtesy: REUTERS/Stringer

Ethiopia's main opposition leader promised a rally of 250,000 people on Sunday to spur economic growth and create jobs by redistributing state-owned land and encouraging private enterprise by freeing up the largely state-controlled economy.

Hailu Shawel, head of the main opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy, was addressing at least a quarter of a million Ethiopians in the capital's central square on Sunday for the final rally by the group before legislative elections set for May 15.

Demonstrators said they would vote for the opposition because the ruling coalition had failed to combat poverty, create jobs and provide free health care and education for the country's estimated 70 million people.

"We want change and we want a new government," Hailu told the enthusiastic crowd that was pushing, shoving and waving the two-finger victory sign which has been adopted by the group.

"We need job creation to bring about poverty alleviation, not dependency on foreign aid -- which is what we have now," Hailu told the crowd of mostly young men.


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