Ethiopia to free high-profile prisoners ‘for the national good’

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Ethiopia has announced it would release dozens of high-profile prisoners from jail, including opposition activists held over an alleged coup and other high-ranking government critics.

A spokesman for the attorney general’s office said on Tuesday that investigations had been dropped against 63 individuals and they would be released from custody later this week “for the national good”.

“The Ethiopian government hopes to widen the political and democratic space in the country with the freeing” of these individuals, the spokesman, Zinabu Tunu said.

Among those to be released are cadres of the National Movement of Amhara (NAMA), an ethno-nationalist opposition group blamed for attacks last year that the government described as a regional coup attempt.

Hundreds were arrested in the aftermath of the June violence in Ethiopia’s north that left five high-ranking officials dead and heaped pressure on a government struggling to cope with ethnic tensions.

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Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who had been praised for loosening control in long-authoritarian Ethiopia, and was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, was accused at the time of using the violence as a pretext to jail critics.

NAMA chairperson Belete Molla said their officials should never have been imprisoned in the first place and welcomed the announcement of their release.

“We consider their imprisonment a politically motivated act intended to weaken Amhara nationalism,” he told AFP news agency.

Among others scheduled for release are activists from the Sidama ethnic group, which voted in November to form their own regional state after a long campaign for more autonomy.

Biniam Tewolde, a former deputy director of Ethiopia’s cyberintelligence agency INSA, who was jailed in 2018 for corruption, is also among those to be pardoned, his lawyer Haileselassie Gebremedhin told AFP.

Authoritarian tendencies

Critics have accused Abiy of authoritarian tendencies, including locking up opponents, even as he embarked on sweeping reforms to foster a more open political and media environment.

Ethiopia is scheduled to hold elections in August and Abiy hopes to secure a mandate to pursue an ambitious agenda of political and economic reform.

But opposition parties and civil society organisations have questioned whether the elections will be peaceful and credible.

Ethnic violence has persisted since Abiy was appointed in 2018 following several years of anti-government protests.

Nearly 30 people were injured on Sunday in an explosion at a pro-Abiy rally in Ambo, roughly 100km (60 miles) west of the capital, Addis Ababa.

Is Ethiopia sliding backwards under Abiy Ahmed?

SOURCE: AFP NEWS AGENCY

 

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4 Responses to Ethiopia to free high-profile prisoners ‘for the national good’

  1. The TPLF led government has been committing heinous crimes in Ethiopia. The TPLF leaders have not regretted and begged pardon for their crimes that included ethnic cleansing and massacres. The same leaders have also been organizing and operating their ethnic network that pillages the country. Instead they have taken refugee in their ethnic homeland they fought to separate and are plotting to incite conflicts and destabilize the country. The demand and pressure for justice should focus on the crimes of the TPLF.

    Benyam
    February 26, 2020 at 12:02 pm
    Reply

  2. It is very sad to see the repetition of playing the very dirty political game we have gone through for a quarter of a century .

    It is so frustrating to witness justice being sacrificed for the sake of safeguarding and advancing the very terrible political game of hierocracy and conspiracy.
    It is playfully sad to witness EPRDF/PROSPERRITY political elites not willing and able to cleanse their soles and minds from the very horrible political crime they committed for so many years with a real sense of regret, apology , and action that can take the country in the right direction and to the right destination .

    Any way, what the very bitter reality we are facing does tell us is that changing names and organizational structures ( TPLF/EPRDF to ODP/Prosperity) does not change the anything for good at all!

    So, the only way out is to rally behind the very countrywide (national) democratic movement that should peacefully but strongly and persistently be able to challenge the very cynical and disingenuous and of course highly toxic political game of the so-called Prosperity Party , and bring about a fundamental democratic change of system in the country !!No less!!!

    T.Goshu
    February 28, 2020 at 7:04 am
    Reply

  3. Binyam a green-eyed monster

    you are drooling here time and again. You will not return to your palace.your comments smack of idiocy and jealousy, above all your are suffering from nervous breakdown.

    Berhe
    February 28, 2020 at 9:00 am
    Reply

  4. The country will change only when there is justice for the ethnic cleansing , killing and incarceration of almost all Ethiopians, and looting at a national level. Remove former officials from A to Z including Dr Abiy. With transitional government change the currency in a week and you can find the true crime kings out on the street.

    Achamyeleh
    February 28, 2020 at 12:01 pm
    Reply

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