[JURIST] The government of Ethiopia charged 55 people affiliated with the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) [party website] Tuesday with plotting to overthrow the government following Ethiopia's 2005 election [JURIST news archive]. The CUD has previously accused Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of stealing the election by voter fraud [JURIST report]. Another 129 lawmakers, journalists, and human rights activists are already being tried on treason charges [JURIST report] for their alleged role in mass anti-government demonstrations [JURIST report] in the wake of the elections.
The opposition members, who were previously barred from meeting with their defense lawyers [JURIST report], could face the death penalty if convicted of treason. In October of last year, an Ethiopian inquiry team charged with investigating the demonstrations announced that approximately 193 civilians were killed by Ethiopian security forces [JURIST report] during the violence, which was nearly three times the official number reported by the government. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour [official profile, JURIST report] and the African Union [JURIST report] have both sternly criticized Ethiopia's human rights record. AFP has more.