ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – An Ethiopian opposition party said Wednesday that two of its members had been shot dead by security forces in the sensitive Oromia region in a crackdown on dissent after the ruling party’s crushing election win.
“One was shot on Sunday and one was shot yesterday,” Merera Gudina, leader of the opposition Oromo People’s Congress (OPC) told Reuters. “The government is trying to prevent protests by massively repressing the people.”
The electoral board said on Tuesday the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and allied parties had won 534 seats out of 536 declared, giving Prime Minister Meles Zenawi most seats in the 547-member parliament.
A European Union observer mission said the election was marred by the EPRDF’s use of state resources for campaigning, putting the opposition at a disadvantage ahead of the vote, but this did not mean the count itself was invalid.
The United States also said Ethiopia’s election failed to meet international standards and called for stronger democratic institutions in the country, a key U.S. ally in Africa.
Merera said the dead were Wondu Desta and Tesfaye Selbessa.
Government head of information, Bereket Simon, said one man was shot after trying to storm an office where ballots were being counted and the other was shot a day later by a policeman who he had beaten during the same incident.
“It is unfortunate that the men were killed,” Bereket told Reuters. “But these are isolated incidents. It is nothing to do with any instruction from above.”
Bereket said a warrant had been issued for the policeman’s arrest.
Merera said more than a hundred members of his party, which is part of the eight-party Medrek coalition that has only won one seat in parliament so far, had been arrested since Sunday.
The government denied this allegation.