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Saturday, August 27, 2005

BBC NEWS | Africa | Ethiopia blames EU for protests

BBC NEWS | Africa | Ethiopia blames EU for protests Ethiopia blames EU for protests
The Ethiopian government has accused EU observers of contributing to post-election violence during which about 40 people died.

It said the EU mission "illegally and secretly leaked information" to the opposition, prompting protests in June.

The statement was issued days after an EU report said the 15 May polls failed to meet international standards.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's coalition retained its majority but opposition parties gained many seats.

'Mistakes'

The statement says the "leaked information" gave opposition supporters the confidence to take to the streets to protest against the elections.

"The mission, against the regulations of its tasks as an observer, illegally and secretly leaked unfounded information to the opposition which gave them confidence wrongly so as to lead them to violence in the streets," the government statement said.

It added the EU mission's report released this week criticising the election process was "intended simply to cover its mistakes".

The government believes the EU told the opposition long before the results had been officially released that it had won the polls, says the BBC's Grant Ferrett.

He says EU officials have dismissed the allegations, noting that they were made soon after the release of their critical report.

Several days of violence followed the parliamentary elections and around 40 people were killed when police fired on protesters.
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