The European Parliament is calling on the European Union’s executive to impose tough sanctions on the Ethiopian government. The resolution represents the latest European criticism of the Ethiopian government’s handling of political discontent since the May 15th election.
Since Election Day, EU parliamentarians have accused the Ethiopian government of human rights abuses for its crackdown on post-election demonstrators. EU observers also issued a report critical of the election, saying it failed to meet international standards.
The resolution approved Thursday by the EU’s legislature accuses Ethiopian security forces of using excessive force to stop demonstrators. It calls on the government to immediately release leaders of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy and journalists who were jailed after anti-government demonstrations broke out in early November.
The non-binding resolution also urges the EU’s executive bodies (the commission and council) to bypass the government in Addis Ababa when distributing humanitarian aid.
The EU is a major donor to development projects, as well as health and nutrition programs in Ethiopia. It has pledged more than 600-million euros (717-million US dollars) alone to help rebuild the nation’s roads.
There was no immediate reaction from the Ethiopian government to the EU Parliament’s resolution.
Earlier, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi dismissed the findings of the EU election report. Mr. Meles said the record number of opposition candidates and the huge voter turnout were proof that it was fair and democratic.
Ethiopian leaders also have defended their crackdown on CUD leaders and journalists, accusing them of inciting violence. Mr. Meles says they may be charged with treason, a crime punishable by death.
But the European Parliament’s resolution says these people should be released immediately. It also calls on the African Union to take a strong stand on supporting democracy in its host country.