June 9, 2005
ASMARA, June 8 (AFP) - The chairman of Ethiopia's rebel Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) said Wednesday that his group would not accept the government's victory in disputed general elections last month.
Dawud Ibsa told AFP on a visit to the Eritrean capital that the Oromo people would not accept "rigged" provisional poll results that show a ruling party victory in the May 14 elections.
"We will call on the Oromo people not to accept the government's victory, to resist and to fight," he said, as deadly clashes erupted in Addis Ababa between police and demonstrators protesting the polls.
"These elections have been rigged," Ibsa said. "The conflict will widen unless the international community comes out with a very committed stance to avert this."
The Oromos are the largest of Ethiopia's some 80 ethnic groups with 35 percent of the nation's nearly 80 million inhabitants.
The OLF accuses the government of "marginalising" its region, Oromia, near Ethiopia's border with Kenya and Somalia.
After the fall of Ethiopia's Marxist regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991, the OLF was part of the country's transitional government but after numerous disputes with the leadership it quit and demanded the creation of the independent state of Oromia.
Since 1996, it has led an armed struggle against the Ethiopian government.