Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, meets jailed Ethiopian politicians

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern met jailed Ethiopian opposition leaders today in an effort to resolve a political crisis triggered by a disputed election.
Ahern also visited leaders of the main opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy in Kaliti Prison yesterday.
They are being held on charges of treason and attempted genocide in a case stemming from violence that erupted during protests over disputed elections that returned Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to power last year.
Opposition leaders claimed that the vote was rigged, and EU observers also found serious problems.
More than 88 people have since died in sporadic clashes with security forces during opposition protests or religious observances.
“I raised Ireland’s concern at the events following the elections of last year,” Ahern said after talks with Meles and Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin.
“I emphasised my particular concern that those events have caused divisions in Ethiopia and offered Ireland’s assistance to overcome these divisions in any way possible, drawing on our experiences of conflict resolution.”
“I emphasised the importance of dialogue in overcoming differences and of working to strengthen democracy in Ethiopia,” Ahern told journalists.
Ahern also discussed tensions between Ethiopia and neighbouring Eritrea following a failure to demarcate their border.
Eritrea fought a 30-year war for independence from Ethiopia that was followed by the 1998-2000 border war five years after separation.
The border war claimed tens of thousands of lives and cost both impoverished countries an estimated €719,100 a day.
Tensions have escalated between the two countries after Ethiopia rejected calls to abide by an international commission’s ruling that awarded the key border town of Badme to Eritrea.
The five-member commission was set up under the 2000 peace deal in which both countries agreed in advance that its ruling will be binding and final.
“I also emphasised to the prime minister the need to seek a peaceful resolution to the ongoing border dispute with Eritrea and the need to work with the Boundary Commission in implementing its decision on demarcation of the border,” Ahern said.
“I have undertaken to brief the prime minister and foreign minister on the process of conflict resolution in Ireland and to outline possible parallels between our countries,” Ahern said in a statement released before talks with Ethiopian leaders.
Ahern is expected to visit southern Ethiopia tomorrow to inspect aid programmes supported by the Irish Government before returning home.

posted by Ethiounited Moderator at2:15 PM

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