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Ethiopia to charge leaders of protest

ADDIS ABABA -- Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said yesterday that the country's recent violence was a misguided attempt at a Ukrainian-style Orange Revolution, and its leaders would be charged with treason.

At least 42 people were shot dead when police confronted demonstrators in the capital last week after the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy called for new protests against May polls that it said the government manipulated.

The government denies ballot fraud.

''This is not your run-of-the-mill demonstration. This is an Orange Revolution gone wrong," Meles said, comparing Ethiopia's unrest with ''people power" protests that ousted the pro-Moscow government in Ukraine last year.

''The violence has marred the image of Ethiopia . . . but as far as the process of democratization is concerned, I don't think it has had an impact on the country," he told reporters.

In the first reported unrest since Saturday, residents said two students in the western town of Ambo were killed in clashes with police yesterday.

The violence in sub-Saharan Africa's second-most populous country has fueled fears of mounting political instability and prompted Western donors to urge both sides to show restraint.

''The [coalition] leaders are engaged in insurrection -- that is an act of treason under Ethiopian law. They will be charged and they will appear in court," Meles said, adding that several newspaper editors also would be charged.

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