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Ethiopia: Former Vice Chair Reacts to Commission Report

The former vice chair of Ethiopia’s commission of inquiry that investigated last year’s post-election violence, Wolde-Michael Meshesha, says the report released yesterday does not represent the will of majority of the commission’s members. That report said 199 people were killed. At the same time it says the police did not use excessive force. But Meshesha, who fled Ethiopia earlier this month, tells VOA English to Africa reporter James Butty the commission reported what the government urged it to report.

“This is what the government want to be said. That’s why I left the country. We had arrived at a decision that said the force used by the security forces to stop the uprising was excessive. It was not necessary because 193 civilians were dead without any arming such kind of gun or any other weapons. So how can one say this is not excessive force? So I say this was not the will of all the members but by force,” Meshesha said.

Meshesha says he agrees with most of the commission’s findings as reported Thursday, including the number of dead and injured. But he strongly disagrees with the commission’s findings that the police did not use excessive force.

“This was the main reason I left the country. Already it (the commission) had been told by the security forces and the prime minister to reverse that decision. This happened according to the request of the security forces and the prime minister. The new arrived decision, I mean.”

Meshesha says the commission in which he served operated independently, but the one that presented its findings to the public Thursday is not.

Meshesha says he expects the Ethiopian Parliament to endorse the commission’s report because he says the parliament is dominated by the ruling Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front party.

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