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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Safeguard the Vote in Ethiopia Petition

To: The US Congress, President Bush, The British Parliament, Prime Minister Tony Blair, The National Assembly, President Jacque Chirac, The Canadian Parliament, Prime Minister Paul Martin , The Bundestag, Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder

Your Excellency:

We the undersigned are sending you this petition to plead with you to bring the whole power of your office to bear on the rectification of a tragedy that is unfolding.

Your Excellency, we are quite shocked and dismayed that the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia is attempting to hold on to power by denying the over whelming vote for change in government the people made on May 15, 2005.

In constituencies where the votes were tabulated, recorded and sealed in the presence of opposition and foreign observer teams, the combined opposition parties have been victorious in 241 constituencies. The unofficial breakdown of the opposition victories is as follows:

The Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) 144
Ethiopian Democratic Union Forces (EDUF) 77
Others 23*

(*23 constituencies have voted for parties who are neither affiliated with the government or the major opposition groupings. These include much smaller parties and independents.)

These results represent the tally of almost two thirds (349) of the 524 seats being contested. Following this clear sweep by the opposition the government has resorted to intimidation, incarceration and in at least one case extra judicial killing of observers fielded by the opposition. As a result, 70 local observers have asked asylum with the International Red Cross. Once the observers were disbanded ballot boxes have disappeared, some have been stuffed with illegal ballots and in a few constituencies people have been prevented from casting their votes by armed thugs.

Mr. Hailu Shawel, leader of the opposition party CUD has demanded an independent investigation by a neutral body made up of international observers to look into the evidence his party and others have compiled on election irregularities in 139 constituencies. Until such action is taken his party has threatened to boycott parliament, and the public may resort to sit in protests and work stoppages.

Your Excellency, it is imperative that you, your government and people as leaders of the free world, make your influence felt in this urgent matter and stand by the Ethiopian people. Prime Minister Meles has threatened the nation by alluding to the Rwandan genocide in a speech given on the eve of the election. The situation is poised to escalate into the possible murder of hundreds if not thousands of people. The government has virtually disarmed the military and the police forces. Special armed units loyal to Meles Zenawi from the Tegrai Peoples Liberation Forces (TPLF) have been brought in to enforce a state of emergency declared illegally and without cause since May 14th 2005.

Your Excellency, we implore you to please not let this momentous opportunity for democracy to take root in Ethiopia slip by. Please bring the powers of your office to bear
on your government to contribute to a body of international observers to look into the discrepancies that threaten to derail the election process and with that, extinguish the glimmer of hope that democracy might finally take hold in Ethiopia. Please make it a condition that any future relation with the government of Mr. Meles depends on the unobstructed investigation by this international body and its findings.

May God bless you and your nation for the concern and interest you have shown.


Sincerely,

The Undersigned

Click here to sign the petition.

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