News and Information

Arrests for Ethiopia poll protest
June 6, 2005

Hundreds of students have been taken away
Hundreds of Ethiopian students have been arrested in the capital, Addis Ababa, after staging protests over last month's elections.

Baton-wielding police stormed the two university campuses which the students had occupied. They had accused the ruling EPRDF party of fraud.

The EPRDF has won a majority of the seats declared so far.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi banned demonstrations for a month following the poll.

"Where are they taking my son?" cried the mother of one student as he and others were herded by police onto one of eight trucks, each carrying about 80 people, reports the AP news agency.

"We are demonstrating because EPRDF is making a fraud, misleading the whole international community saying they have won," one student yelled through the gates of the social science school before the police took action.

Opposition gains

The BBC's Mohammed Adow in Addis Ababa says tensions have been rising since the elections were held.

The opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) has denied government claims that it incited the students to protest.

Final election results will now be announced on 8 July - a month later than planned, the National Election Board says.

Click here to tell us what happened at the protests

This will allow election authorities to investigate hundreds of alleged episodes of fraud and vote rigging.

Opposition parties have vowed to stage mass protests if the provisional results are validated.

The opposition have, however, won almost 200 seats - a huge gain from the 12 they had in the previous parliament.

Officials counting votes in the capital
The count has been slow and undermined confidence in the poll
EU observers have voiced concern over irregular vote counting and biased reports by the state-owned media.

According to provisional results, the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and its allies have won an overall majority of 320 seats in the 547-member parliament.

Law suits

But the opposition has accused the ruling coalition of irregularities and intimidation.

The two main opposition groups have also filed a lawsuit against the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), accusing it of conspiring with the government to rig the polls.

The board in its turn has announced it will sue them for defamation.

"Such statements, though baseless and fabricated, may mislead the public and discredit the efforts of the NEBE," the board said in a written statement.

Fresh ballots have been held for at least six disputed seats.

The polls were the first in Ethiopia to be monitored by international observers, and the third since a Marxist junta was toppled in 1991.


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