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CRACKDOWN ON MEDIA AMID ELECTION CONTROVERSY

The Ethiopian government is cracking down on the media amid violent post-election clashes between government forces and opposition supporters, report the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists Association (EFJA), the International Press Institute (IPI), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF).

On 7 June 2005, the Information Ministry revoked the accreditation of five local journalists working for foreign media - Helen Mohammed, Temam Aman and Bereket Teklu of Voice of America, and Taddesse Engidaw and Assegedech Yiberta of Germany's Deutsche-Welle. They were accused of writing "unbalanced reports" on the elections, according to BBC Monitoring.

On 6 June, police confiscated cameras from Associated Press reporter Anthony Mitchell and photographer Boris Heger, who were covering violent student protests in the capital, Addis Ababa. The memory cards on the digital cameras were removed.

In another incident, officials detained at least six editors from the Amharic-language press who were summoned to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in Addis Ababa on 2 June. The editors of the private weeklies "Abay", "Addis Zena" and "Menilik" were held and questioned for several hours about articles they published during the election period. They were released without charges.

Addis Ababa has been wracked by violent clashes between opposition supporters and government forces following the 15 May elections, which gave the ruling Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front and its allies a narrow victory, according to provisional results. At least 36 people were killed during the protests. The two largest opposition parties have challenged the results, citing more than 300 complaints filed in the country's 547 constituencies. The government has agreed to begin investigating the complaints on 15 June.

Visit these links:
- EFJA: http://allafrica.com/stories/200506061281.html
- IPI Report on Ethiopia: http://www.freemedia.at/r_wl_ethiopia.htm
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=14032
- CPJ: http://www.cpj.org/protests/05ltrs/Ethiopia08june05pl.html
- BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4090770.stm
- Profile of Meles Zenawi: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4545711.stm
- Inter Press Service: http://www.ipsterraviva.net/Africa/viewstory.asp?idnews=189
(photo courtesy of UNDP)

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