Two officials from the US State Department began a visit to Ethiopia today as talks continued between the ruling party and opposition over the nation's election crisis. The two-day visit by Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto and Director for East African Affairs Eunice Reddick will include talks with the Ethiopian government. The State Department says the trip is designed to support efforts by the Ethiopian government and opposition groups to strengthen democracy in Ethiopia.
Meanwhile, the ruling party and opposition leaders are meeting to resolve divisions over parliamentary elections in May. Electoral officials declared the ruling party the winner. The opposition has rejected the results, claiming fraud.
Dr. Meseret Chekol is a professor of journalism in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he is currently writing a book on the media. He told English to Africa reporter Ashenafi Abedje that he thought the meetings between the two sides are a good start. He says the most contentious issues are the nearly thousand opposition members under arrest, and whether the opposition should join parliament -- or boycott it in protest over alleged poll irregularities. He says the US officials can use their influence to further encourage the parties to arrive a mutually acceptable conclusion. Dr. Chekol says he thinks the best solution would be the establishment of a national unity government as requested by the opposition.