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