Ethiopia

Ethiopia: Anger in Addis Ababa as transport strike enters second day

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Addis Ababa (dpa) - Addis Ababa was paralysed by a lack of transport Thursday as some 15,000 taxi and minibus operators began their second day of strike in protest at alleged fraud in last month's general elections.

Protestors are objecting to the provisional results which indicate a victory for the ruling EPRDF Party.

The first day of strike saw violent disturbances in the city as sympathetic youth threw stones at the extra buses laid on by city authorities. At least 24 people were killed and 40 injured when police shot into the crowd

Business was at a standstill in the capital Thursday morning with many shops and offices remaining shut and little traffic on the streets.

In one of the city's coffee shops customers, shocked by the severity of Wednesday's protests, reacted in anger.

''It's beyond belief how cruel we are to each other,'' said an elderly man.

''Blame the authorities who say there is democracy and yet order the police to shoot at those exercising their democratic rights,'' said a middle-aged woman at the next table.

Meanwhile independent media reported that the leadership of the main opposition, the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), an umbrella group of five parties, has been under house arrest since Monday, when students at Addis Ababa University first initiated the demonstrations.

Protests have since spread to colleges and universities around the country with students boycotting class and demanding the unconditional release of some 500 students arrested Monday during the first demonstrations in Addis Ababa.

Those CDU leaders reported to be confined to their homes include Hailu Shawul, chair of the Coalition, Dr. Berhanu Nega, spokesman for the Coalition, and Lidetu Ayalem, member of the executive council of the Coalition.

Although the CUD has not yet commented on the reports, the European Union Election Observer Mission that monitored the 15th May general elections in Ethiopia, has condemned the action. dpa gh sr

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