LONDON, June 9, 2005 (AP) — Britain’s Conservative Party questioned Thursday whether Ethiopia should remain on Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Africa Commission, after deadly riots in the country.
Ethiopian security forces opened fire on stone-throwing protesters in the capital, Addis Ababa, on Wednesday, leaving at least 22 people dead.
Conservative foreign affairs spokesman Liam Fox queried whether it was appropriate Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi remained on the commission, which promotes democratic values and human rights in Africa.
"Would you agree that the actions of the Ethiopian government’s security officers were completely at odds with these principles?" Fox wrote in an open letter to Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.
"If so, can you please explain whether you believe it is appropriate for Meles Zenawi to remain a member of your commission?"
Britain has called for an urgent investigation into the deaths and has urged Meles to show restraint. There was no immediate response from the Foreign Office to Fox’s letter.
Blair established the Africa Commission last year to assess the crisis in Africa and develop policies to help the impoverished continent. Meles is a prominent member of the 17-strong commission, which has made a series of recommendations to G8 countries about how to lift Africa out of poverty.