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05PARIS3924 2005-06-06 16:51:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Paris
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1. (C) Embassy Africa watcher discussed developments in
Ethiopia with MFA AF DAS-equivalent Jean-Christophe Belliard
June 6. Belliard recounted that he had recently discussed
Ethiopia with NSC Africa Advisor Courville and UK FCO AF
A/S-equivalent in London. During that meeting, he said,
there was general agreement that, with the opposition
claiming victory and the government engaged in cheating,
there could be disorder not only in Addis, but also in the
countryside, where people were, for the first time, daring to
criticize the government. Belliard said that HMG had agreed
to prepare a paper developing a common position of the
witnesses to the Algiers accords, but had not yet done so.
Belliard said he would be in touch with the British to remind

2. (C) Belliard said that, in addition to disorder, the
second concern was that Isaias might see an opportunity to
push for the recovery of Badme, leading to a new,
catastrophic Ethiopia/Eritrea war. Belliard offered that
Eritrea had more to lose in this situation, assessing that
Ethiopia would drive the Eritreans "into the sea." Belliard
recounted that UNSYG Annan had, at the May 29 conference on
Darfur in Addis, stressed to the Ethiopian PM Meles the need
to stop GFDRE efforts to manipulate the election results.
Annan, he said, had also urged the opposition to remain calm
and avoid violence.

3. (C) Belliard opined that the decision to delay the
announcement of the election results by one month may not be
a bad thing, giving both sides time to calm down. The
question, he said, was whether the Election Commission would
be able to manage a situation caught between the demands of
the GFDRE to accelerate their work, and opposition demands to
slow down. Belliard characterized the opposition's
leadership as reasonable, and willing to play by the rules,
but speculated that grass roots supporters might be less

4. (C) We asked several times whether, beyond acting through
the EU, France would be making any statement or engaging with
the parties on a bilateral basis. Belliard avoided
responding, but tacitly acknowledged that France would not be
taking a high-profile position on Ethiopia. He told us that
the MFA Africa directorate had been arguing against a
proposed trip by former FM Barnier to make a policy speech on
Africa in Addis, implying that, with Barnier now having left
office, the trip was now a non-issue.