Eritrean opposition urges overthrow of government

ADDIS ABABA Fri Dec 21, 2007 6:27am EST

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki sits before meeting with rebel leaders from Sudan?s Darfur region in Asmara May 31, 2007. Eritrean opposition groups should help each other bring down the pro-Ethiopian government of President Isaias Afwerki, the Walta News Agency quoted one opposition leader as saying on Friday. REUTERS/Jack Kimball

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki sits before meeting with rebel leaders from Sudan?s Darfur region in Asmara May 31, 2007. Eritrean opposition groups should help each other bring down the pro-Ethiopian government of President Isaias Afwerki, the Walta News Agency quoted one opposition leader as saying on Friday.

Credit: Reuters/Jack Kimball

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ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Eritrean opposition groups should help each other bring down the pro-Ethiopian government of President Isaias Afwerki, the Walta News Agency quoted one opposition leader as saying on Friday.

"Eritrean opposition parties should unite in their struggle to overthrow the government in Asmara which is pushing the people to servitude and economic crisis", the head of the Eritrean Peoples Democratic Front (EPDF), Tewolde Gebre-Selassie, was quoted as saying.

Several opposition groups met in the historic northern city of Axum in Ethiopia, which has bitter ties with neighbor Eritrea. The pair fought a war in 1998-2000.

Eritrean opposition leaders from the United States, Germany, Sweden and Sudan were at the unprecedented three-day meeting, the news agency said.

The EPDF head said Afwerki's government was leading its people "to war and a dreadful socio-economic and political crisis" and had lost support at home and abroad while turning Eritrea into a "virtual prison".

Afwerki's rebel movement turned government, and its one-party system, is criticized by many for creating Africa's most repressive state.

But the government says Ethiopia, backed by the United States and other Western allies, is spreading lies against it.

(Reporting by Tsegaye Tadesse; editing by Elizabeth Piper)

((nairobi.newsroom@reuters.com +254 20 224 717)

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