Saturday, June 11, 2005

Ethiopians Take Protest To Senator Thune's Office

Dozens of people in KELOLAND are protesting an election that happened last month thousands of miles from here.

Today they took their cause to the steps of Senator John Thune's office in downtown Sioux Falls.

"Stop killing, we need peace!"

Waving their country's flag and carrying signs, nearly 40 Ethiopians who now live in Sioux Falls, marched in protest from the multi-cultural center to Senator John Thune's office.

"Call upon Senator John Thune."

They want Thune and President Bush to do something about the recent election in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia's opposition won more than 80 percent of the vote in the capital last month, but the current government is claiming victory in the election based on results from rural areas.

The opposition and those protesting in Sioux Falls want the current prime minister to step down.

"The message we'd like to get across the state of South Dakota and United States as a whole is that we are calling for a democratic change, people overwhelming voted for," said protest organizer Tatek Weyesa.

The dispute has led to violence in the African country, leaving 20 people dead.
"He cannot continue to do what he's doing the killing, the shed of innocent blood."
They are protesting in South Dakota because they say they're not allowed to stage such a demonstration in their native land without retribution.

And they say Senator Thune's office is a good place for their cause to be heard.
"Mr. John Thune, we all know has a close friendship with the president and he could talk to him on our behalf," said Weyesa.

We tried to get a statement from Senator John Thune's office, but they haven't returned our phone call.

In the meantime, the white house is calling for calm in Ethiopia and the president has said any dispute should be taken to an electoral commission.


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