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Ethiopian Government Blames Opposition for Violence

Ethiopia’s minister of information, Bereket Simon, denies riot police shot innocent people this past week, and disagrees with those who say things are getting out of control. In a recent interview with English to Africa reporter James Butty, Mr. Bereket accused the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy of distributing leaflets calling on students and taxi drivers to protest. The opposition denies the charge.

The Ethiopian government spokesman says the administration of President Meles Zenawi has asked the opposition to refrain from inciting their supporters to riot. He says everyone must follow the legally established procedures for protesting the vote count or any other problems.

He says no government would ever relinquish power to opponents in an illegal and unconstitutional manner. Similarly, he says the administration will not accept the forceful takeover of power.

Mr. Bereket says the government has evidence of opposition participation in last week’s protests and that it will present that evidence in due course. In the meantime, the numbers of opposition leaders and supporters being detained seems to be growing.

He also denies that his government has itself issued any leaflets calling on its own supporters to attack the opposition.