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Ethiopia pardons 746 more individuals, including
prominent opposition figure, journalist  

ADDIS ABABA, (Xinhua) -- Ethiopia on Thursday announced the release of an additional 746 suspects and prisoners, including high-profile personalities, as part of an amnesty program aimed at national reconciliation.

According to the Federal Attorney General, the release of the 746 followed a decision of the Executive Committee of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

The pardoned individuals include Eskindr Naga, deputy chairman of the opposition Unity, Democracy and Justice (UDJ) and Andualem Arage, owner of several newspapers, who were jailed on September 2011 on terrorism related charges.

According to the Federal Attorney General, 417 of the pardoned are federal prisoners jailed on terrorism, inciting violence, religious extremism and other related convictions.

The 746 will be freed as part of the second round of the pardoning initiative since the initial announcement by Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to drop charges and free imprisoned politicians, together with closure of the notorious detention center in the capital Addis Ababa, known as Maekelawi.

As part of the first round of the amnesty program in January this year, the government released Merera Gudina, chairman of Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), and more than 525 others as part of its pledge to build national consensus.

Gudina, who was received by thousands of supporters, was in prison for 413 days for allegedly conspiring with an outlawed rebel group, Ginbot 7.

Prime Minister Desalegn, while announcing the move together with leaders of the four parties that make up the ruling party EPRDF, said the move would promote national unity, reconciliation and dialogue among Ethiopians.

He said releasing political prisoners, including those under prosecution and those who were convicted, would widen the east African country’s political platform.

The government move came after widespread protests that started in the first half of 2016 and prompted a 10-month state of emergency that ended in August 2017.

Renewed anti-government protests in parts of Ethiopia’s Amhara regional state have recently claimed human lives and caused much resource damage.

Even though Ethiopians have witnessed their country’s economy growing at double digits for years, challenges spawned by bad governance and corruption have led to violence.

The government has since taken steps to ease public anger, including the arrest of senior officials and major government reshuffles.

During the crackdown, 56 senior government officials, businessperson and middlemen were arrested in less than one month during 2017. 



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