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Monday, May 09, 2005

EU Criticizes Ethiopian Ruling Party

The leader of the European Union's election observers in Ethiopia has protested the ruling party's use of hate speech ahead of the May 15 balloting in a confidential letter to the National Electoral Board and in internal reports obtained by The Associated Press.

The EU's chief observer, Ana Gomes, listed acts of violence and intimidation by ruling party members and officials in her letter. In a weekly situation report to the diplomatic community, she also cited the alleged slaying of an opposition leader by a ruling party militia commander.

In her May 4 letter to the election board obtained by the AP, Gomes is critical of the ruling Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front for comparing opposition parties to the militia responsible for Rwanda's 1994 genocide.

On May 5, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi repeated the comparison.

"Their policies are geared toward creating hatred and rifts between ethnic groups similar to the policies of the Interahamwe when Hutu militia massacred Tutsis in Rwanda,'' Meles said, in direct violation of a code of conduct he signed when he registered to run for re-election.

In an interview on state-run television, Meles called on Ethiopians to "punish opposition parties who are promoting an ideology of hatred.''

Gomes, on Monday, said her letter was the first sent to authorities.

"I'm not expecting formal answers, not even verbal promises, I'm expecting action,'' Gomes said. She said while the campaign was positive overall, her observers had gathered evidence of violence and in some cases witnessed it first hand.

Guardian Unlimited

Photo
Photo Courtesy: A man stands near homeless people sleeping on a street corner, Monday, May 9, 2005 in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. Unemployment is about 40-50 percent in the capital, where some 4 million Ethiopians live. Ana Gomes, the leader of the European Union's election observers in Ethiopia has protested the ruling party's use of hate speech in the campaign ahead of Sunday's elections, in a confidential letter to the National Electoral Board and in internal reports obtained by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo)

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