ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA, 18 JUNE 2018 – Ethiopia has pardoned and will release more than 300 prisoners, including 289 convicted on “terrorism” charges, according to the state-affiliated Fana news service.
The pardons, announced Friday, are part of reforms pledged by the country’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. More than 1,000 prisoners have been released or are slated to be released under a series of decisions approved by Abiy Ahmed.
Those benefiting from the pardons include several senior opposition leaders who were found guilty of “terrorism” or incitement to oust the government.
Three Kenyans are among those pardoned. So, too, is Andargachew Tsige, the Ethiopian leader of the opposition group Ginbot 7, who was found guilty of “terrorism” and sentenced to death in 2009 in absentia. Tsige was arrested in June 2014 while on transit at an airport in Yemen and taken back to Ethiopia.
Most of the detainees were condemned following violent unrest which broke out three years. The riots were sparked by the seizure of land for an urban development plan.
The widespread anti-government protests in which hundreds of people were killed in the Oromia and Amhara regions finally forced former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to resign.
As part of the reforms, Ethiopia has lifted the state of emergency and fired security officials seen as implicated in the deadly repression of the protests. He has also taken steps to repair relations with neighboring Kenya and to agree a peace settlement with former rival Eritrea.