Ethiopia frees political prisoners in reconciliation bid
The Ethiopian government has announced a decision to pardon and release some of the country’s most high-profile political detainees in what is seen as a reconciliation bid in the crisis-ridden country.
The Ethiopian Government Communications Service said Friday that among those to be released include high-ranking leaders of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) and opposition Oromo Federalist Congress and the newly formed Balderas party,
The pardoned TPLF leaders are the founders of the group and longtime leader Sebhat Nega and his sister, Kidusan Nega, along with three others who were arrested during the military operation in Tigray.
Jewar Mohammed, the outspoken opponent of the government and a high-profile figure in the opposition Oromo Federalist and other party members incarcerated with Mohammed, suspected of inciting unrest in 2020 that followed the assassination of Oromo singer Hachalu Hundesa, were released, according to a statement.
Eskinder Nega, a journalist and head of the newly formed Balderas Party and all detained leaders of the party were also released.
The pardons come as Ethiopian Christians celebrated Christmas.
“In our culture, the end of conflict is reconciliation and forgiveness; We are a people with the values of reconciliation and peace, even to the point of marrying bloodthirsty militants, ” the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation quoted Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in his Christmas message.
Ethiopia’s Ministry of Justice said the amnesty for Jawar and Nega was granted “to make the upcoming national dialogue successful and inclusive”.
Ethiopian lawmakers on December 29 approved a bill to establish a commission for national dialogue amid international pressure for negotiations to end the war.
The war in Ethiopia between Tigrayan and government forces has been waging on for more than a year.
Since November 2020, the bloody war between the two sides has left the economy battered, devastated infrastructure and left thousands dead and many displaced.
A joint report by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights accuses Tigray Special Forces, Eritrean Defense Force (EDF) and the Ethiopian National Defense Force of destroying infrastructure.