Fate of Loyal oppositions in Ethiopia.

October 12th, 2006 Print Print Email Email

Thu Oct 12, ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - An Ethiopian opposition party accused Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s government on Thursday of threatening to withhold jobs from civil servants and students if they did not support the ruling party.United Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF) called on the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) to stop what it called coercive tactics.

“The pressure being put on civil servants that are members and supporters of the opposition parties to sign up as EPRDF members to retain their jobs must stop immediately,” it said in a statement.

It said students were also being told they would not get employment upon graduation nor have access to vocational training schools unless they joined the EPRDF.

Bereket Simon, the ruling party’s head of public relations with the rank of minister, dismissed the charges.

“The ruling party has no interest in engaging itself in squabbles as a result of a collection of baseless accusations by UDEF, which do not help the democratic process,” he said.

“The ruling party has shown its commitment and goodwill to engage itself with opposition parties to enhance the ongoing democratic process in the country.”

EPRDF holds 327 seats in the 528-seat Ethiopian parliament against UEDF’s 40.

The ruling party was criticised by the West for two bloody crackdowns on opposition members who protested against the results of last year’s contentious parliamentary elections, saying they were rigged. The government denied that allegation.

An ongoing treason and genocide trial against opposition leaders has also drawn censure from rights watchdogs and Western governments, and led some European donors to cut direct aid to Addis Ababa.

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