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Ethiopia Uneasy After Call for General Strike


The Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa remains in disarray after a general-strike call by the opposition, following a week of political violence that killed at least 46 people.

Buses are scarce, taxis almost non-existent, and about half of the capital's businesses were closed on the first working day of the new week.

But there has been no repeat of the violent street clashes between opposition supporters and government security forces that left scores killed, hundreds wounded, and thousands arrested last week.

The violence stems from last May's general election. The opposition says the election was stolen by the party of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, a charge the government rejects.

Ethiopia is under pressure from Western nations, which provide more than one-billion dollars in aid annually.

The United States and the European Union on Sunday called for the government to stop using lethal force against demonstrators, and to release political detainees.

The acting U.S. Ambassador, Vicki Huddleston, says Ethiopia should meet international benchmarks to defuse the situation. "We sincerely hope that the government and leaders of Ethiopia will carry out these recommended actions," he said, "not because they come from the international community, but because these are international standards of human rights, of democracy, and because these recommendations, if followed, could find a way forward for the people of Ethiopia that is peaceful."

But the government has rejected the appeal. Information Minister Berhan Hailu told Reuters news agency the Western countries should "stop meddling in our internal affairs and mind their own business."

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