Ethiopians slam premier's new peace moves

Addis Ababa - More than 50 000 people on Sunday demonstrated in the Ethiopian capital against plans by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to breathe life into the stalled peace process with neighbouring Eritrea.

The demonstration, organised by the country's opposition parties, was aimed at denying Zenawi's peace plan popular support ahead of general elections scheduled for May.

Police said between 50 000 and 60 000 people attended the protest, but organisers put the figure as high as 100 000.

Opposition leaders have accused Meles of endangering Ethiopia's territorial integrity.

In November Zenawi offered fresh hope for a breakthrough when he finally accepted a special commission's ruling designed to resolve a border dispute that led to a two-year war in 1998 and offered a plan to push forward the process.

But since the two countries signed an accord in Algiers in 2000 to end the war hardly any progress has been made.

Eritrea has since rejected the peace plan, and accused its arch-nemesis of buying time.

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