A top opposition leader said Saturday that the Ethiopian government had put him and his family under house arrest, a day after officials threatened to detain more opposition leaders unless violence over disputed elections stopped.
"I am not allowed to leave my residence, my wife and maid are not allowed to leave and no one is allowed to visit," said Hailu Shawel, chairman of the main opposition group, the Coalition for Unity and Democracy. "I am virtually in prison."
Journalists who went to Hailu's home to interview him were roughed up and their cameras were confiscated, witnesses said. Foreign diplomats, however, have been allowed to see him.
Protests in the capital began Monday, despite a ban on demonstrations ordered by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, after weeks of opposition allegations that the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front intimidated voters and rigged parliamentary elections on May 15.
Violence erupted on Wednesday when police and troops fired into crowds of protesters, killing at least 26 people. Security forces then began rounding up youths and detaining members of the opposition.
Meles said Friday that the government would stop opposition leaders from leaving the country and could detain people without question "if things get hotter."
Berhanu Nega, vice chairman of the opposition coalition, was stopped at the airport while trying to leave for London, and three other senior opposition officials were placed under house arrest Saturday, members of the coalition said. More than a dozen other opposition members remain in custody.
Information Minister Bereket Simon said opposition leaders had rejected a deal on Friday that called on the opposition and the ruling party not to incite violence and to support the work of the electoral commission.
The ruling party accused the opposition of stirring the violence and said police opened fire after looters and rioters attacked them with stones. Witnesses said calm had returned in the capital on Saturday, with some shops opening for business.
Diplomats called last month's election the most democratic in Ethiopia's history. But a delay in announcing the official results, compounded by accusations of fraud, have prolonged tensions.