Thursday, June 09, 2005

Answers About the Unrest in Ethiopia

Some questions about the street violence in the Horn of Africa nation of Ethiopia:

Q: Why are Ethiopians protesting?

A: The ruling party was declared winner in provisional results from last month's parliamentary elections, but opposition parties say both the balloting and vote counting were tainted by fraud, intimidation and violence. Anger is especially strong in cities, where the opposition has the most support and where the protests have been concentrated.

Q: Who is protesting?

A: Students at Addis Ababa University on Monday were the first to defy a ban on protests that Prime Minister Meles Zenawi declared May 15, election day. The protests spread to other schools, then constructions workers and others joined in. Taxi and private bus drivers and shop owners began a protest strike Wednesday that continued Thursday in Addis Ababa.

Q: How many have been killed?

A: One student died in clashes between police and students Monday, and 26 people were killed Wednesday when security forces fired at stone-throwing protesters in the capital, authorities said.

Q: What's at stake?

A: The violence threatens to destabilize Ethiopia, one of the poorest countries in the world, and is raising doubts about the government's commitment to democracy and human rights.

It also could strain Meles' dealings with the international community. Washington has touted him as a progressive African leader and a key partner in the war on terror. Meles also is a member of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's Commission for Africa, which is urging industrial nations to boost aid and trade to Africa and to cut the continent's debts while calling on African leaders to embrace democracy and improve their citizens' security.

Yahoo! News/AP


Ethiopian special forces patrol with armoured personnel carriers in Meskel Square in downtown Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, June 9, 2005. Ethiopian security forces held some opposition leaders under house arrest on June 9, a day after police and troops fired into crowds killing at least 26 people in the country's worst bloodshed in four years. (Andrew Heavens/Reuters)

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