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Merkel visits Ethiopia, condemns police brutality

German Chancellor Angela Merkel had no kind words for the Ethiopian government when she visited the Horn of Africa nation on Tuesday.

She told Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn to stop his police from using brutal tactics, and urged his government to maintain a sense of proportion when dealing with protests by opposition and rebel groups.

“I say that one should seek dialogue with people who have problems and conduct it openly,” Merkel was quoted by Deutsche Welle (DW) as saying.

She said the opposition was essential in a democracy and an opposition represented in parliament was the best option.

Ethiopia’s opposition parties failed to win a single seat in parliament in the 2015 election, accusing the government of rigging the vote, charges which it denies.

“Democracy also involved the exchange of views via the media, and such debates were difficult in a democracy but they were infinitely preferable to outbreaks of violence,” the German leader, who also met with members of the Ethiopian civil society, said.

The Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa houses the headquarters of the African Union (AU), but the pan-African organisation has so far ignored the pain and tears of Oromo protesters who are being detained, tortured and shot by Dessalegn’s brutal and cruel security forces.

At least 500 people have been killed and scores injured and arrested, according to rights groups.  Several journalists are also currently serving lengthy jail terms on fabricated terrorism charges, media watchdogs say.

Photo: AU Commission Chair Nkosazana D. Zuma (l), Chancellor Angela Merkel (c) and the Ethiopian PM open the new Julius Nyerere complex in Addis Ababa. Credit: DW/DPA

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