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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 November 2005, 06:05 GMT
Ethiopia answers Western critics
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi
Meles has been in power for the last 14 years
Ethiopian PM Meles Zenawi has defended his handling of opposition protests last week, in which demonstrators were shot by police and leaders arrested.

Mr Meles told the BBC the UK was wrong to join European and US pressure for the release of the opposition MPs.

He said the international community should wait for the outcome of trials of those accused of treason and fomenting violent insurrection.

The trouble began after the opposition accused the government of poll fraud.

More than 40 people died in the unrest.

Opposition leaders had called on Ethiopians to protest against alleged fraud in the parliamentary elections in May, but they deny inciting violence.

The US and the EU had called for the immediate release of all political detainees, which include the leadership of the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD).

But Mr Meles said detainees had led a "failed insurrection", which had done "enormous damage" "in terms... of civilian and police deaths".

The leaders would "have their day in court", he said.

"I think that is the normal, legal, democratic thing to do."

Poll violence

It is unclear how many people remain in detention following last week's protest.

On Thursday Ethiopian authorities released more than 2,400 people, whom police said were not directly connected with the unrest.

Protests in Sub-Saharan Africa's second most populous country were initially ignited after the 15 May polls, when some 36 people died and hundreds were arrested.

Mr Meles' Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front won a majority in polls, but the opposition gained many seats.

The opposition is made up of the two broad groupings - the CUD and the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces, which unlike the CUD, have taken up their parliamentary seats.

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