Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Ethiopia's May elections are free and fair - UK Blair

(ST/ENA) article Feb 13, 2006:

British Prime Minister Tony Blair described Ethiopia's May elections as most free and fair ever held in the country, BBC reported on Monday. He also acknowledged that Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was democratically elected, according to the radio.

According to the state-run ENA agency, Blair said in Johannesburg "there are really issues we have discussed them. But I think, it is important to emphasize this is not the question of government having lost in the elections and then trying to retain power".

"The government won the election and there was reaction to it, there was then, perhaps, I can say this with out being too undiplomatic and overreaction to that, which often happens and we have to try and resolve the situation the human rights issues. To do so and I want to do so in a way that supports Ethiopia", Blair said.

Blair said Meles responded by stressing that his government didn't steal the elections but lost a number of seats. He retreated that if there was an overreaction on the part of the government then there should be an independent inquiry into the violence.

Regarding British government's decision on suspension of direct budgetary support to Ethiopia, Meles said I have a personal view which is not a hundred per cent identical to that of the Prime Minister of the UK.

They respect my responsibility to make decisions in Ethiopia and I respect their responsibility to make decisions about their own money, it is their tax payers money, said Meles.

The two days summit of "the Progressive Governance Summit," held in South Africa described as a meeting like-minded leaders concluded that the World Trade Organization round talks had to be a success. If failure, the leaders said, would be a huge blow to developed and developing countries.

The South African meeting drew Blair along with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and South Africa's Thabo Mbeki as well as leaders from South Korea, Ethiopia, New Zealand and Sweden.

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