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Six killed in clashes in Ethiopian capital

November 2, 2005

By David Mageria

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Six people were killed in clashes
in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Wednesday, a hospital
source said, as police confronted stone-throwing youths in a
second day of anti-government protests.

Security forces fired teargas and shot in the air to
disperse hundreds of demonstrators who formed makeshift
barricades, hurled rocks and smashed windscreens in protest
against a May poll the opposition says was rigged.

“We have received today six dead and 17 wounded,” a source
at the Black Lion hospital told reporters. On Tuesday, eight
people were killed in the violence.

“We are protesting because the government stole the
election. People are angry because the police are very cruel,”
said Ghebremichael Ayele, dragging pieces of wood to block a
road leading to the capital’s biggest hospital.

A Reuters reporter saw police round up dozens of people and
bundle them into two pickup trucks.

Six protesters and two policemen were killed in Tuesday’s
violence, which came three days after the main opposition
group, the Coalition for Democracy and Unity (CUD), called for
fresh protests.

In the hours after Tuesday’s clashes security forces
arrested the CUD leadership, saying it orchestrated the
violence.

“TIME BOMB”

Political tensions in Africa’s top coffee grower have
worsened since Ethiopia’s second real multi-party vote handed
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi a third five-year term in power,
despite a massive swing to the opposition.

Foreign observers broadly endorsed the official results,
but noted some irregularities in the election.

Meles has repeatedly accused the opposition of plotting to
incite violence and topple his government. He says he will not
accept any threat to security in the country of 77 million, the
second most populous in sub-Saharn Africa after Nigeria.

Merera Gudina, first vice-chairman of a smaller opposition
party, the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF),
criticised the government’s strong-arm tactics.

“The government used excessive force,” he told Reuters. “We
are sitting on a time bomb. It exploded yesterday. It could
explode again a week later or a month later.”

Information Minister Berhanu Hailu played down the
violence.

“The violent situation is continuing in some parts of the
city, but it’s not a big challenge to the government,” he told
reporters, blaming the CUD for instigating Tuesday’s clashes.

CUD officials were not immediately available for comment.

In June post-election clashes killed 36 people in Addis
Ababa, an opposition stronghold, in the capital’s worst
violence in four years.

The political deadlock in Ethiopia prompted the European
Parliament to warn last month of possible cuts in development
aid to the donor-dependent country unless there was an end to
the “persecution and intimidation” of opposition groups.




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