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US, EU Appeal for Peace in Ethiopia

The United States and the European Union are calling on the Ethiopian government to end lethal force, and free jailed opposition leaders after a week of political violence that has killed at least 46 people.

The U.S. and EU governments issued their appeal in a statement read by British Ambassador to Ethiopia Bob Dewar.

"We urgently call upon all political parties and the Ethiopian people to desist from further violence, and to abide by the rule of law and the constitution," he said.

Ambassador Dewar, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, expressed serious concern that opposition leaders have been arrested.

"Unrest has spiraled out of control with tragic results. We express our sincere condolences to the families of the dead and injured, and condemn all violence, whether by security forces or demonstrators," said Ambassador Dewar. "All sides should ensure that children are not involved in violence, and their rights are respected."

The acting United States Ambassador, Vicki Huddleston, emphasized that a peaceful solution must be found to the dispute over last May's election.

"Violence, especially the use of unnecessary lethal force, is not acceptable by any party, and the way forward has to be through a democratic, peaceful process," she said.

The Western countries are calling for the immediate end of lethal force, random searches, indiscriminate beatings and massive arrests by government security forces. The statement says all political detainees should be released, and restrictions on opposition leaders lifted.

It also calls on the opposition to discourage actions that could incite more violence, injuries and destruction of property.

The government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi won a third term in May elections, but the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy charges fraud.