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Saturday, December 17, 2005

Ethiopia's Opposition Leaders Face Treason Charges

Angola Press -- A total of 131 jailed Ethiopian opposition leaders and other people were on Friday charged with treason, genocide and other crimes for allegedly inciting violence after the May 15 parliamentary elections.

The charges against Hailu Shawel, chairman of the largest opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), and other 130 people included treason, high treason, armed rising of civil war, attack on the political or territorial integrity of the state, genocide and outrage against the constitution.

If convicted, the suspects could be punished by no less than 15 years, life imprisonment or death, said federal prosecutor Shemeles Kemal.

The 131 detainees were refused to give a release on bail and were asked to stay in custody, he said.

There is "ample evidence" that the suspects could go into inducing violence and committing crimes if they are released on bail, said the federal prosecutor.

During the street violence in the country`s capital Addis Ababa and some other cities two weeks ago, in which police clashed with CUD supporters, at least 46 people died. Between Friday and Saturday police released 4,138 people.

The violence began Nov. 1 amid protests over the parliamentary elections.

CUD has been boycotting the lower House of People`s Representatives (HPR), saying it wants a solution to the contested results of the parliamentary elections.

The final election results indicate that the ruling Ethiopian People`s Revolutionary Democratic Party (EPRDF), which has ruled the country for the past 14 years, has won 327 seats of the 547- seat HPR, enough to form the federal government.

CUD and another opposition party, the United Ethiopian Democratic Force (UEDF), were in second and third places with 109 and 52 seats respectively. They held only 12 seats before.

The two opposition parties accuse the ruling party of massive electoral fraud.

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