Ethiopia commission to probe post-election violence

ADDIS ABABA, April 25 (Reuters) - Ethiopia has appointed an 11-member independent commission to decide whether security forces used excessive force to quell post-election violence in June and November 2005, its chairman said on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi had promised to set up the independent commission to investigate two separate bouts of unrest that erupted over the result a May 15 parliamentary poll.

Opposition charges of vote fraud led protesters into the street of the capital Addis Ababa in June and November last year in which some report say 82 people were killed by security forces in their attempt to quell the violence.

Police had said only 62 people died in the two unrests.

The chairman of the commission, Fire-Hiwot Samuel, said that his team will seek to establish the exact number of people killed in the clashes, the amount of property destroyed and whether there were human and constitutional rights violations.

"The commission will investigate and prepare a report to parliament on its findings," he told journalists in Addis Ababa.

Fire-Hiwot, who is also president of the High Court of the Southern region appealed to Ethiopians to voluntarily come forward and report what they had witnessed.

He said the commission will not investigate the causes of the violence because it was not under its mandate.

"We are not mandated to investigate the root-cause of the violence," he said, adding that he hoped to finalise the report within one month. "We are not also mandated to investigate other violence which may have occurred after June and November."

The commission comprises academicians from universities, religious leaders and lawyers.

Ethiopia's government crackdown on the opposition and the media following the violence prompted some Western donors to cut aid to the impoverished Horn of Africa country, sub-Saharan Africa's second most populous country.

The donors reiterated their call for dialogue between the government and the opposition.

"Tolerance of dissenting views is a hallmark of democracy. We deplore threats against those who are seeking to advance Ethiopian democracy," the donors said in a joint statement late on Monday. "We continue to support the peaceful democratic process for the country and the strengthening of the pluralistic multiparty system."


Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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