Ethiopia opposition says jailed leader ignored by West

Fri Jan 29, 2010 5:22pm GMT

By Barry Malone

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - The West is ignoring a jailed Ethiopian opposition leader to keep the Horn of Africa stable despite her being this week named on a United Nations list of arbitrary detainees, her party said on Friday.

Birtukan Mideksa, leader of the Unity for Democracy and Justice party (UDJ), was first jailed with other opposition leaders when the 2005 election turned violent.

She was pardoned in 2007 but was re-arrested last year accused of violating that pardon.

"This matter is being more or less hushed," Seye Abraha, a senior UDJ official, told reporters in Addis Ababa.

"They talk of security and stability in the absence of democracy and respect for human rights. We are cursed by geography."

Analysts say Ethiopia has been a key U.S. ally in its fight against terrorism.

A Human Rights Watch report last week also accused Western countries of being silent on Ethiopia to protect multi-million dollar aid programmes in the poor country and singled out the United States and Britain for criticism.

Britain rejected the claims and said it would "send a positive signal" if Birtukan was released ahead of the May 23 polling date.   Continued...

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