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2 Ethiopian Opposition Leaders Held

June 12, 2005|From Associated Press

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopian authorities placed two opposition leaders under house arrest Saturday, saying they were behind a week of violent protests that left 29 dead in clashes with police.

Information Minister Bereket Simeon accused the main opposition party, the Coalition for Unity and Democracy, of reneging on an agreement -- struck Friday with the ruling party and another opposition coalition -- to work together to end protests.

The government has accused the opposition of engineering the protests by students and others, who were angered that the ruling party claimed victory in recent parliamentary elections based on provisional results. The opposition denies that it orchestrated the protests, but has said the elections were marred by fraud and violence.

The leader of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy, Hailu Shawel, and another senior official, Lidetu Ayalew, were placed under house arrest. Bereket said Hailu's group was "once again showing us their commitment to violence, and the government will not shy away from ensuring the peace and security of the country. That is why we have taken these steps."

The Coalition for Unity and Democracy denied being an extremist party or reneging on the agreement signed Friday.

Journalists who went to Hailu's house to check reports that he was under house arrest were beaten by police using their fists and clubs.

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