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Ethiopien - EU opfordrer til politisk samarbejde

ETHIOPIA: EU lawmakers call for resolution of political standoff

IRINnews.org, 14. oktober 2005

EU lægger pres på PM Meles og regeringspartiet EPRDF for få dem til at afstå fra at forfølge og ydmyge medlemmer af oppositionen. Samtidig opfordres parterne til at genoptage deres forhandlingerne. EU anklager samtidig regeringen for at være den skyldige part i sammenbruddet af de tidligere forhandlinger. PM Meles og hans regering beklager at EU indtager denne holdning, som de tilskriver lederen af EU korps af valgobservatører, Ana Gomez.

EU's chefobservatør ved valget i maj, Ana Gomes - ©  IRIN
ADDIS ABABA, 14 Oct 2005 (IRIN) - European Union (EU) parliamentarians have urged Ethiopia's ruling party to stop "persecuting and intimidating" opposition members, warning that this could affect aid to the impoverished country.

The legislators also urged all parties to resume talks immediately.

In a resolution adopted in Strasbourg, Austria, on Thursday, the lawmakers blamed the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) for the breakdown in talks with opposition leaders aimed at ending a tense political standoff, which has lasted since the country's 15 May general elections.

The Ethiopian government, however, said the EU view was "regrettable", describing it as part of a "vilification campaign" started by the EU’s chief election observer, Ana Gomes, whose post-election report was highly critical of the polls.

"The government believes that it is high time for the European Union parliament to honestly assess the objective realities in Ethiopia and refrain from such vilification campaigns which do not in any way contribute to the democratisation process in Ethiopia," the information ministry said in a statement.

The EU lawmakers said the EPRDF had attempted to reverse the democratic gains made during May's elections, in which opposition parties made significant gains.

The EU is one of Ethiopia's largest donors, providing more than US $490 million each year. The lawmakers called on the European Commission, if necessary, to "adjust its non-humanitarian aid in accordance with progress in the democratic process".

In the 15-point resolution, they said the government should allow the opposition access to state-run media and release political prisoners seized after the elections within 48 hours, in accordance with Ethiopian law.

Negotiations over the bitterly disputed parliamentary elections broke down last week after the two sides failed to agree on an agenda.

Ethiopia's largest political opposition party, the Coalition for Unity and Democracy, boycotted parliament, alleging poll fraud and calling for irregularities to be properly addressed.

This prompted the government to strip opposition members of immunity, raising fears of arrest after Meles - who has led the country for 14 years - accused them of being behind plots to overthrow his administration.

Three days of post-election demonstrations ended in bloodshed, with human rights groups claiming that security forces gunned down 42 people. Britain froze 20 million pounds sterling in aid as a result.

The capital, Addis Ababa, with a population of four million and home to the African Union, is also under a caretaker administration after the opposition refused to take up its controlling seats in protest.

Relations between the EU and Ethiopia plummeted after its election observers said polling failed to meet international standards in key areas.

At the time, Meles likened Gomes - herself an EU parliamentarian - to a "self-appointed colonial viceroy" and branded the observers' report "garbage".

Meanwhile, an international media watchdog, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), has condemned police harassment of members of the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists Association (EFJA).

The criticism came after four of its top members - who have criticised the government about its handling of the election - were held by police, fingerprinted and quizzed about the activities of the association.

"CPJ is alarmed by the authorities' latest attempt to intimidate EFJA leaders," Ann Cooper, executive director of CPJ, said. "This is an intolerable assault on a press freedom organization whose right to operate has been upheld twice by the federal court."

Federal police were not immediately available for comment.

© IRIN - This article appeared originally on IRIN News.org and is published by engelund.dk according a general agreement. To view the original article, please click here.
IRIN (Integrated Regional Information Networks) is a project of UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
[This article does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.]


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Opdateret d. 16.10.2005