Religious leaders call for peaceful elections

Ethiopian religious leaders called for peaceful national elections this weekend - violence after the country's last elections in 2005 claimed around 200 lives, and three grenade attacks since April have increased tensions between political parties.


AFP - Ethiopia's religious leaders called for peaceful elections at the weekend after violence marred the build-up to the polls.

Abuna Paulos, head of the Orthodox church -- Ethiopia's foremost religion -- said the church "ardently prays that the upcoming 2010, fourth national elections would be conducted in a just and fair manner."

"All contestant political parties are thus expected to build up a culture of respect, dialogue and peaceful deliberations," he added in a statement.

Some 32 million voters have been registered for the May 23 elections which Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is expected to win.

Three grenade attacks have rocked the country since April and the ruling party and an opposition coalition have accuse each other of the attacks.

Head of the country's Catholic bishops conference Abune Berhaneyesus and the deputy head of the evangelical churches Dereje Jenberu called for respect of the outcome of the Sunday's vote.

"For whatever the outcome would be, we would like to stress that it would be totally unfair to instigate unrest by pointing at others or creating grounds for such acts," Berhaneyesus said.

Ethiopia's last elections in 2005 in which the opposition scored unprecendented gains ended in violence that claimed some 200 lives after they accused Meles of rigging the vote.

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