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At Least 12 Killed in Second Day of Ethiopia Protests


Riot police in Ethiopia's capital clashed for second day with opposition party supporters protesting the country's disputed May elections. Twelve people have been reported killed, including two police officers, and dozens of others injured.

Ethiopian authorities are cracking down on hundreds of opposition party supporters who filled the streets in the country's capital, Addis Ababa, for a second day. They accuse Ethiopia's ruling party, which won a majority of parliamentary seats, of vote rigging in the May elections.

Ethiopian authorities have arrested dozens of protesters, and several opposition leaders, including the head of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy, have been detained.

Coalition for Unity and Democracy representative Berhane Mewa, says he is not surprised that police used excessive force to disperse crowds of opposition supporters in Addis Ababa. The ruling Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front lost ground to opposition parties in the capital in the May election.

Mr. Mewa spoke to VOA by telephone from the U.S. state of Michigan.

"They have used excessive force. And that has been expected actually," he said. "This is the place where the EPRDF has lost the vote of the people. You could consider it as revenge. This is what the nature of the government is, and this will definitely encourage the opposition parties."

Ethiopia government spokesman Tekle Zemedkun says it is unclear whether police are using excessive force to quell the protests. He says some opposition leaders dissatisfied with the results of the May election are inciting their supporters to protest and instigating violence.

"Some of the opposition leaders are using the people as instruments to their requests," he said. "And they are trying to incite violence. This is the very clear position of the government."

Despite strong gains in the polls by opposition parties, final electoral results gave Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's ruling party control of 60 percent of the parliament.

Opposition leaders accused the ruling party of voter fraud and intimidation. The Coalition for Unity and Democracy, the main opposition, has been boycotting Ethiopia's lower house of parliament since the elections, and could face legal action from the government.

In June, Ethiopian riot police killed at least 36 people during protests against the elections.

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