[dehai-news] (AFP) US 'concern' over Ethiopia opposition arrest

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From: Biniam Haile \(SWE\) (eritrea.lave@comhem.se)
Date: Thu Jul 28 2005 - 14:50:29 EDT

US concern over Ethiopia opposition arrest
Wed Dec 31, 11:05 am ET
ADDIS ABABA (AFP) - The US embassy in Addis Ababa on Wednesday voiced
concern over the fate of an opposition leader who was jailed after her
pardon from a life sentence was revoked.
Birtukan Midekssa, head of the Unity for Democracy Justice party, irked
the regime when she reportedly claimed during a recent visit to Europe
that she had never voiced remorse or acknowledged any mistake to obtain
her pardon in 2007.
"The United States is concerned about the government of Ethiopia's
arrest of Unity for Democracy and Justice Party leader Birtukan
Midekssa," the embassy's information officer Darragh Paradiso told AFP.
"We are particularly concerned by reports that Birtukan's pardon has
been revoked and she has begun a life sentence in prison."
The 35-year-old woman, who was detained with dozens of opposition
figures and supporters in the aftermath of disputed 2005 elections, was
last week given a three-day ultimatum by the authorities to confirm or
deny the reports.
The justice ministry announced on Tuesday that she has resumed serving
her life term.
The United States, a staunch Ethiopian ally and the country's top aid
contributor, called for more political freedom.
"A vibrant opposition, independent media, and a robust civil society are
essential elements of any democracy," Paradiso said.
"The United States looks to the government of Ethiopia to provide the
political space necessary for them to function. Steps that appear to
criminalise dissent impede progress on democratisation," he added.
Birtukan's party made its most spectacular electoral gains ever in the
2005 polls and cried foul over reported fraud, claiming it was robbed of
victory by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's ruling party.
The ensuing unrest left close to 200 civilians dead and drew
international condemnation.


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