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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Ethiopia Opposition Warns of a Return to Dark Days

Reuters -- Ethiopia's opposition, which has rejected election results giving the ruling party victory, warned on Thursday of a return to the dark days of the Derg military dictatorship under Mengistu Haile Mariam.

The opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) has said it would challenge the results from the May 15 poll in the courts and urged a government of national unity to be formed.

"There is a clear and distinct danger that the country may return to the dark days of the Derg regime where the use of force becomes the chosen means of suppressing political dissent or political opposition," the CUD said in a statement.

Unrest over alleged vote-rigging in Ethiopia's second real multi-party poll led to the police shooting at least 36 people and arresting thousands more in June in Africa's top coffee producer.

The 53-member African Union has appealed to political parties in Ethiopia to settle any disputes through the courts and through dialogue.

However, the CUD said the major obstacle blocking any resolution was a "complete lack of trust" towards Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

The EPRDF is expected to form a new federal government by the end of next month.

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