Germany's Merkel calls for democracy in Ethiopia
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ADDIS ABABA — German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday urged Ethiopia to allow more democratic freedoms after the country ran into international criticism over disputed 2005 elections.
"We are in favour of further openness of the country, of the political system," Merkel said at a joint press conference with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
Merkel was in Ethiopia on the first leg of a three-nation African tour that will also take her to South Africa and Liberia. "We have the interest to see this society more open and the opposition's rights protected," she said, adding: "The respect of human rights is among the factors very conducive for development."
(Picture - German Chancellor Angela Merkel helps cut a traditional loaf of bread at a home for former street children in Ethiopia on the first day of her four-day, three-country trip to Africa. DPA)
Several opposition leaders were detained during a heavy crackdown in the aftermath of the 2005 parliamentary polls that the opposition claimed were rigged by the ruling party.But in July, the leaders, who were facing heavy jail terms, were freed under a pardon.
Merkel and Meles also discussed cooperation, regional conflicts, notably the crisis in Sudan's Darfur region, violence in neighbouring Somalia as well as the border dispute between Ethiopian and long-time foe Eritrea.
-Merkel kicks off Africa tour with plea for democracy (AFP)
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