Ethiopia to release all political prisoners

Elias Hubbard
January 13, 2018

Central to the demonstrations are the Oromo and Amhara communities, as NPR has reported, which make up a majority of the Ethiopian population but say they are marginalized politically. Martin Plaut is a journalist specialising in the Horn of Africa and Southern Africa, and senior research fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies.

Ethiopia announced on Wednesday it will release jailed opposition figures as part of an amnesty program to create national consensus and speed up democratization. "Politicians now under prosecution and those previously sentenced will either have their cases annulled or be pardoned", Hailemariam told domestic news outlets in the capital.

Some of the prominent politicians now in custody include opposition leaders Bekele Gerba and Merara Gudina, and several journalists also remain in detention. Dozens of people were killed in several bouts of violence between ethnic Oromos and Somalis in the Oromiya region a year ago.

Ethiopia's ruling party, in a statement issued after its evaluation last week, affirmed its full commitment to address the challenges faced by the country and to ensure the sustainability of the gains made so far.

Ethiopia, sandwiched between volatile Somalia and Sudan, is often accused by rights groups of regularly using security concerns as an excuse to stifle dissent and media freedoms.

"It was absolutely not clear what the prime minister was saying", said Yacob Hailemariam, a lawyer in Addis Ababa, the capital.

The prime minister also indicated that by turning Maekelawi into a museum, the government will set up another investigation center in line with the Ethiopian constitution and the country's human rights laws. Human Rights Watch had alleged that Maekelawi, a detention facility in Addis Ababa, was used to conduct illegal interrogation methods in 2013.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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