At least thirty-three more dead in Ethiopia election clashes

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

At least thirty-three more people have died in a second day of protests in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. Reuters put the figure at twenty-three.

According to incoming reports police forces opened fire on stone-throwing youths who were engaged in protest.

The protests were called in reaction to the results of the parliamentary elections held in May which many opposition figures maintain were rigged. When the election results were first declared in June riots erupted in which 36 people died.

The latest series of protests come as the parliamentary session is scheduled to begin. The opposition party, the Coalition for Unity and Democracy called the protest and refused to take their seats until new and transparently organised elections are held, and mass arrests of opposition activists cease. The party said that six of its top officials, including chairman Hailu Shawel and vice-chairman Berhanu Nega, had been detained.

30 taxi drivers who took part in demonstrations against the parliamentary elections were arrested and had their licenses revoked.

Authorities have jailed at least two journalists and increased censorship of media coverage of anti-government protests, reports the Committee to Protect Journalists. On 2 November, police arrested two editors and a reporter from the independent Amharic-language weekly Hadar. Many other journalists have gone into hiding and much of the independent press has stopped publishing on orders from the police.

The Associated Press reports that an anonymous source in Black Lion Hospital told their reporter that most of the dead had been shot in the chest. One eye-witness at the hospital claims that the police fired randomly into the crowd.

The dead were all shot by riot police and opposition spokesman Gizachew Shiferaw said police used excessive force. The previous day, however, two of the dead were police shot by protesters. The Government accuses the opposition of attempting to topple the government, and dismissed an assessment by European Union monitors that the elections failed to meet international standards.