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Negotiations in Progress to Free Jailed Ethiopian Opposition Leaders

Negotiations are in progress to free a group of 38 Ethiopian opposition leaders who were jailed following post-election violence in 2005.

The Washington Post newspaper reports Thursday that the opposition leaders have signed a document accepting partial responsibility for the violence in exchange for their release.

However, a source close to the negotiations tells VOA Horn of Africa service that the talks are still in progress and that no deal has been finalized.

Ethiopian opposition groups tell VOA the imprisoned leaders want all the charges against them dropped as part of any deal.

The 38 were convicted earlier this month on charges that include "outrages against the constitution." Several were also convicted on charges of inciting an armed rebellion.

Human rights groups have condemned the Ethiopian trial as a sham.

The violence occurred during demonstrations to protest the 2005 election results. The official results showed the opposition making gains but the ruling party of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi retaining power.

Ethiopian security forces used massive force to quell the protests, killing at least 193 people.