Ethiopia set to release more prisoners ‘for the national good’

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Authorities in Ethiopia have announced that dozens of high-profile prisoners are set to be released from jail, including opposition activists accused of an attempted coup last year.

In a statement released on Tuesday, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office said that investigations had been dropped against 63 individuals who will be released from detention later this week. The statement said the release of the prisoners is “for the national good” ahead of crucial elections later this year.

Dozens of prisoners set for release

Among the prisoners set to be released are members of the National Movement of Amhara (NAMA), the opposition group accused of carrying out attacks last year that the government called a regional coup attempt. Five high-ranking officials were killed in the northern Amhara region during the attacks and hundreds were arrested in the aftermath of the violence.

The June 2019 attacks prompted some of the worst ethnic violence in Ethiopia since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came into power in April 2018.

NAMA chairperson Belete Molla has welcomed the release of its members, insisting they should never have been arrested in the first place.

Among the others set for release are activists from the Sidama ethnic group, which voted to form their own regional state in a November referendum after a long campaign for greater autonomy.

While Abiy Ahmed’s time in power has been marked by the release of thousands of political prisoners – a move that has gained a lot of praise – and opening up political freedoms, authorities have continued to crack down on certain opponents and arbitrarily arrest opposition figures under his rule.

Featured image: “A Conversation with Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia” flickr photo by World Economic Forum https://flickr.com/photos/worldeconomicforum/46798335192 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.