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EU Electoral Observer Saddened By Events in Ethiopia

Several days of clashes between Ethiopian police and demonstrators in the capital, Addis Ababa, have left dozens of people dead and more than 150 wounded.  Opposition supporters have been protesting last May’s elections, alleging massive fraud. 

Anna Gomez, the head of the European Union’s Observer Mission to last May's parliamentary elections in Ethiopia, told English to Africa reporter Ashenafi Abedje she is dismayed at the latest turn of events in Addis Ababa.  She says the crisis was not unexpected, given the disputed election results, the June 8th killing of demonstrators and subsequent  mass arrests, and the overall deteriorating human rights situation in the country.   The European parliamentarian says these elements created the conditions for the current instability.  She says having voted in the millions and shown their yearning for democracy, the people of Ethiopia do not deserve the current state of affairs. 

Ms. Gomez says she recently wrote her colleagues in the European Parliament, urging them to pay more attention to events in Ethiopia and pressure their governments to be consistent in applying the values of human rights and democracy to Ethiopia.  She says the people of Ethiopia look to Europe for democracy and that Europe can in fact make a big difference in Ethiopia.  She notes the Addis Ababa government is one of the largest recipients of European aid.  

Ms. Gomez says the European Parliament continues to closely monitor the situation in Ethiopia.  She says last month, the EU Parliament adopted a detailed unanimous resolution on Ethiopia.  The head of the EU observer group says after months of technical delays, she will soon release her final report on the May 15th elections.  She says the contents of the report will not be different from the preliminary report – just more detailed.  She says it will also be more forward-looking, with recommendations for improving the overall electoral process. 

Ms. Gomez says moving Ethiopia forward will require political will by all parties – especially the ruling party – to abide by the standards of democracy