World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

Violence in Addis Ababa

04 November 2005

Letter to H.E. Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, 4 November, 2005


Your Excellency,

You may no doubt recall that in the course of my recent visit to Ethiopia and
our meeting, I expressed concern at the growing tension between the government
and the opposition political parties in the aftermath of the general election.

I had then conveyed our deep conviction to Your Excellency for the matter to
be resolved through dialogue and for the government to exercise moderation,
patience and tolerance and explore all avenues for peaceful and honest dialogue
with the opposition.

Subsequent to our meeting, I had written to the leadership of the Coalition for
Unity and Democracy and the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces, with the
same appeal and underlining the urgent need for a mature and amicable approach
to resolve the crisis that has led to the political polarization and confrontation. I
encouraged them, in the larger and long-term interest of Ethiopia, to resolve the
political impasse through dialogue.

It is therefore with great sadness that I have learned of the death of many
Ethiopians following demonstrations and riots in Addis Ababa this week. Many
others are wounded and remain in hospital. The government has also attacked
the opposition leaders arresting key figures and putting them under detention.

These developments are not likely to lead to a peaceful resolution, but instead
would aggravate the situation.

I am thus writing this letter with a very heavy heart. Consequent to the actions
taken by the government, the wedge between the government and the opposition
will widen, thereby unnecessarily dividing the population and leading to
economic and political hardship. It could even destabilize the entire nation with
all the adverse effects on the laudable initiatives you have taken on development
and democratization process.

The World Council of Churches urgently and respectfully calls on Your Excellency
to exercise utmost restraint and bring to an immediate halt the military action
against the people and to release the political prisoners as soon as possible. Such
actions will help in easing the fast-rising political tension. The government of
Ethiopia should open new avenues of dialogue to deal with the broad spectrum
of outstanding issues. Any further military action against the people is an escalation
of violence and will further damage the political climate and make dialogue
even less possible.

With this letter and in the spirit of my recent visit I respectfully call on you
as leader of the Ethiopian people to act in the best interests of the people in a
manner that the entire nation of Ethiopia will recognize and accept.

Meanwhile we assure you of our prayers and hope for a just and peaceful Ethiopia.

Yours sincerely,

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
General Secretary

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