ADDIS ABABA. –– The Ethiopian government yesterday pardoned 746 suspects including prominent opposition figure Andualem Arage and dissident journalist Eskinder Nega. The Ethiopian Federal Attorney General said the prisoners will be freed after their pardons are approved by President Mulatu Teshome and they will receive rehabilitation training, reported state media Radio Fana.
Andualem Arage, Deputy Chairman of the opposition Unity, Democracy and Justice (UDJ) and Eskinder Nega, owner of several critical newspapers were jailed in September 2011 on terrorism-related charges.
The Ethiopian government has characterised the mass prisoner release programmes as part of efforts to create national consensus and widen political space. The Ethiopian government has since January released thousands of prisoners arrested in connection with unrest that rocked the East African nation in 2016.
The unrest in 2016 led to the deaths of hundreds and was dubbed by analysts as the gravest challenge the ruling coalition Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front faced in 25 years.
The unrest involving parts of the three most populous regions of Amhara, Oromia and Southern regional states led to an imposition of martial law in October 2016 which was only lifted in August 2017. – Xinhua