Ethiopia

U.S. urges Ethiopian government and opposition to refrain from violence

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(Excerpted from White House Report)

ETHIOPIAN VIOLENCE AND THREATS "UNACCEPTABLE," McCLELLAN SAYS

The White House said violence in the wake of Ethiopia's disputed May elections is "unacceptable", and it urged the Ethiopian government and opposition to refrain from violence and to "maintain a peaceful atmosphere" in the country.

Press Secretary Scott McClellan, speaking June 9 aboard Air Force One en route to Columbus, Ohio, said, "The violence is unacceptable, the threat of violence is unacceptable.

"Any concerns relating to alleged electoral irregularities need to be addressed through the electoral commission and the legal process," McClellan said, adding "Both the government and the opposition have claimed victory in the election and both have agreed to accept the review by the Carter Center and the electoral commission."

The press secretary urged all sides -- students, civil society leaders, opposition supporters, and members of the government and political leaders -- to avoid violence.

It is also important, he said, "for the federal security forces to respond in a like manner and to exercise restraint, and act in a way that is in accordance with international standards on human rights."

McClellan called for due process in the political crisis and said the Bush administration has been in contact "at the highest levels" with government officials, opposition leaders and members of the international community.

Earlier in the day, President Bush spoke with United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Both leaders emphasized the need for the Ethiopian government and opposition to "remain calm and await the final review by the electoral commission," McClellan said.

Annan telephoned Bush to brief him on his recent trip to Africa and the U.N. leader expressed his support for the expansion of African Union (AU) security forces from 3,000 to 8,000 troops to help deal with the crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan. Annan also reported that an additional $1 million has been committed by participants in a donors' conference in Oslo, Norway, to help with the AU force deployment, the press secretary said.

"The President expressed our support for NATO helping with the deployment of the African Union forces. And the Secretary General talked about how the security forces are having a positive impact on the ground, and by expanding the forces, they will have even more of a positive impact in Darfur, and it will help encourage people to return back to their villages," he said.

Bush and Annan also discussed the importance of continuing to press Sudan's government and rebel forces to resolve their differences peacefully at the negotiating table in Abuja, Nigeria, McClellan said.

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)