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Thursday, June 09, 2005

Ethiopia Violence Unacceptable: White House

Electoral violence in Ethiopia that resulted in 26 dead is unacceptable, the White House said, appealing at the same time for calm in the country.

Some 26 people have died and scores were injured as a result of police in downtown Addis Ababa Wednesday opening fire on crowds protesting the results of disputed elections held in May.

"The violence is unacceptable, the threat of violence is unacceptable," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

"And we urge students and civil society leaders and opposition supporters and government -- members of the government and political leaders to refrain from violence and maintain a peaceful atmosphere in Ethiopia," he said.

"Any concerns relating to alleged electoral irregularities need to be addressed through the electoral commission and the legal process," he said, speaking to reporters while President George W. Bush was on a visit to the midwestern city of Columbus, in Ohio.

It is also important for Ethiopian security forces "to exercise restraint, and act in a way that is in accordance with international standards on human rights," he said. "It's important that there be due process."

US officials have "have been in contact at the highest levels with government officials, opposition leaders and the international community," he said.

Bush spoke about the situation in Ethiopia by telephone with United Nations Secretary General
Kofi Annan, McClellan said.

"Both emphasized the need for the government and opposition to remain calm and await the final review by the electoral commission," he said.

The opposition accuses the ruling Ethiopian People's Democratic Front (EPRDF) of trying to steal recent polls with ballot rigging and of trying to quash the certification of provisional results by the election board.

The European Union, Britain and the United Nations have also condemned the violence and called for restraint from the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and the opposition.

The opposition is unconvinced by provisional election results that gave it a huge boost to about a third of the parliamentary seats, up from 12 in the previous assembly, but keep the ruling party in power.

Yahoo! News/AFP

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