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 E.U. governments issued their appeal in a statement read by Bob Dewar, British ambassador to Ethiopia.
"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,” Ambassador Dewar said.
Ambassador Dewar, whose country holds the rotating E.U. presidency, expressed serious concern that opposition leaders have been arrested.
"Unrest has spiraled out of control with tragic results,” he said. “We express our sincere condolences to the families of the dead and injured, and condemn all violence, whether by security forces or demonstrators. 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.
Statement By European Union And U.S. Ambassadors
As long term constructive partners of Ethiopia and its people, the US Government and the European Union, working closely with the wider international community, helped to create a political dialogue aiming to build trust between the opposition and the government with a view to helping resolve the post-election crisis.
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. They should pursue their political aims by peaceful Parliamentary and Municipal democratic means.
Although some Opposition parties and members took their seats in Parliament, the present failure of the EPRDF and the CUD/P to resolve their differences through dialogue, has led to violence and has undermined the credibility of Parliament and the democracy building process. This violence has also damaged Ethiopia’s international reputation.
We express serious concern that CUD/P party leaders and some members of civil society 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. All sides should ensure that children are not involved in violence and their rights are respected.
These distressing events have further deepened mistrust as well as political and social divisions. We strongly believe the Ethiopian people need reassurance that there is a peaceful and just way forward. To this end we encourage the Government to restore peace and confidence in the democracy building process by ensuring due process of law and respect for human rights in accordance with international practice and its own commitments.
Therefore we urge the government and, where relevant, the Opposition, to carry out the following measures:
· Immediate end to the use of lethal force, random searches and indiscriminate beatings and massive arrests;
· All political detainees should be released;
· Speedy review and – where appropriate – release of individuals detained in the recent demonstrations;
· Immediate lifting of any restrictions currently imposed on those CUD/P leaders and members not detained;
· Immediate access by families, legal counsel and the International Red Cross and/or other appropriate representative of the international community, to jailed CUD/P, civil society and media leaders, as well as provision of medicines, food and other humanitarian needs;
· Notification to families of names and whereabouts of detainees together with appropriate access and provision of humanitarian needs;
· An independent investigation of the deaths and injuries arising from recent events and the events in June;
· Review and revision of Parliamentary rules and practices to ensure that all parties represented in Parliament can participate on a fair and representative basis;
· Re-opening of the private media and promotion of a code of conduct for the media to ensure a balanced and responsible flow of information to the public;
· Appointment of a National Election Board in consultation with the Parliamentary Opposition.
As regards the Opposition, and without prejudice to their constitutional rights, we call upon them at this very sensitive time, to disassociate themselves from and to discourage all actions that could directly or indirectly incite violence, harm individuals or lead to the destruction of public and private property.
In a spirit of promoting reconciliation, the European Union and US Ambassadors urge the re-opening of political dialogue designed to foster peace and to build a strong democratic nation, based on a commitment to the rule of law and democratic principles.