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70 Ethiopian opposition poll observers seek refuge at Red Cross

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By Ethiopian newspaper The Reporter

ADDIS ABABA, May 22, 2005 — Seventy election observers of the opposition Oromo National Congress, (ONC), in Bedeno and Weter town have sought refuge at the Red Cross in Harer, in eastern Ethiopia.

The Red Cross has rejected their request.

A senior ONC official, Ms Almaz Seifu, told The Reporter that the observers sought refuge at the Red Cross fearing for their lives after receiving threats.

She said the Ethiopian Red Cross in Harer had notified the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) about the issue, but the ICRC rejected their request saying that it could only provide assistance to victims of conflict and natural disasters.

Information we obtained from the area indicate that the ONC observers had revealed their grievances to a team of EU election observers in the area after the Red Cross rejected their request.

Ms Almaz said the observers had now taken refuge in various private residential houses, and she had written a letter to the Red Cross to assist them.

Material provided by the BBC Monitoring Service, original text in in Amharic.

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