Ethiopia Announces Release of All Political Prisoners

AFP  File  William Davison Oromia is Ethiopia's largest region and the anti-government protests began in November 2015

Spokesman, Zadig Abraha, insisted the country had no political prisoners and that "some members of political parties and other individuals that have been allegedly suspected of committing crimes and those convicted will be pardoned or their cases interrupted, based on an assessment that will be made".

The PM said that the government has reached to a decision to release politicians in a bid to create better national consensus and widen the country's political space. He did not give further details.

Almost 700 people died in one bout of unrest during months of protests in 2015 and 2016, according to a parliament-mandated investigation.

"The crackdown on the political opposition saw mass arbitrary arrests, torture and other ill-treatment, unfair trials and violations of the rights to freedom of expression and association", rights group Amnesty International has said.

Rallies over land rights then broadened into demonstrations over political restrictions and perceived rights abuses, including the incarceration of Merera Gudina and Bekele Gerba - leaders of the opposition group the Oromo Federalist Congress.


In recent months, a spate of ethnic clashes have also taken place.

Ethiopia faced in 2016 unrest that killed hundreds, dubbed by analysts the gravest challenge to the ruling coalition Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front in 25 years.

The government in Addis Ababa has been denying imposing political restrictions.

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.

Tekle says that for years, the Maekelawi detention center "essentially functioned as a torture chamber, used by the Ethiopian authorities to brutally interrogate anybody who dares to dissent including peaceful protestors, journalists and opposition figures".

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