May 9, 2005
I missed the EPRDF rally so am unable to compare the two. But the opposition turn out was certainly impressive. The whole city seemed to be filled with opposition supporters honking horns and waving the two-finger V-for-victory symbol used by the CUD - the Coalition for Unity and Democracy.
Just in case you don't know, Ethiopia is holding its third ever national elections on Sunday, May 15.
Hailu Shawel, head of the CUD, told the crowd "We want change and we want a new government... We need job creation to bring about poverty alleviation, not dependency on foreign aid -- which is what we have now."
A day earlier, Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia's prime minister, told EPRDF supporters: "The huge turnout is an indication that EPRDF and its policies are supported by the people. We seek your support for re-election on May 15. We urge you to vote in a peaceful manner."
There are more photos of the rally on Flickr.
Update: There has been some controversy over the exact number of people at the event. Most journalists settled on about 250,000. One man in the crowd ran up to me at the event and said "there are six million people here" - a little unlikely when you remember that that is about one and a half times the entire population of Eritrea.
Anyway, here is a little trade secret. No one ever knows how many people turn up to these huge events. At a typical protest or rally, organisers tend to overestimate the turnout and authorities like the police tend to underestimate it. Journalists tend to take all available estimates, compare them to their best judgement and then agree on a number together. That seems to be the best system to me - unless anyone wants to have a go counting the heads in the photo.
Posted by aheavens at May 9, 2005 6:04 AM