November 13, 2005

Ethiopia frees 1,721 detainees held in unrest

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Ethiopia has released another 1,721
people detained in a massive round-up during clashes between
police and protesters earlier this month which left at least 42
people dead, state television has said.

The latest release brings to 4,435 those freed from jail in
recent days after the crackdown by Prime Minister Meles
Zenawi's government on unrest over the disputed May 15

"Those who have been released from detention are those who
were found not to have been involved in the rioting," state TV
said late on Saturday, quoting police.

The government did not say how many people in total it had
arrested, but opposition and diplomatic sources believe several
thousand more are still in jail.

At least 42 people were shot dead over several days of
confrontations between police and demonstrators after the
opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) called for
new protests against alleged election fraud.

The government denies rigging the ballot that gave former
rebel leader Meles another five-year term in sub-Saharan
Africa's second most populous country.

Most of the opposition leaders are in jail. Meles has said
they will be charged with treason for inciting insurrection.

The latest unrest in Ethiopia followed the deaths of 36
people in June in similar protests over the election.

Most of the violence has been in Addis Ababa.

The troubles have fueled fears for stability in the Horn of
Africa's traditionally dominant power and prompted Western
donors to urge both government and opposition to show

Meles, once hailed by the West as part of a "new
generation" of African leaders but now under pressure over his
democratic credentials, has ordered an inquiry into both bouts
of unrest.