BBC Live Reporting: Ethiopia to pardon, free all political prisoners.


At 13:17 and 14:35 today, Emmanuel Igunza made two posts under the BBC's live reporting feed. This is a summation of what he reported. See the BBC Live Reporting feed here.

AFP: Ethiopia has faced more than two years of anti-government protests

The Ethiopian government has announced the pardon and release of all political prisoners in the country.

The notorious Maekelawi Prison will be closed and turned into a museum and an independent task force has been set up to investigate human rights abuses and the handling of prisoners.

The announcement follows days of consultations within the ruling EPRDF coalition.

The unprecedented pardon is expected to apply to both convicted political prisoners and those currently facing court cases.

There are no clear figures as to how many there are, but they include opposition figures from the Oromo and Amhara regions and dozens of journalists seen as critical of the state.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn says the move is critical for national dialogue.

Ethiopia has faced more than two years of anti-government protests with demonstrators calling for political and economic reforms, which prompted a crackdown and thousands of arrests. It is the first time that the Ethiopian government has admitted to having political prisoners at all.

There are no clear figures as to how many there are, but they include opposition figures from the Oromo and Amhara regions and dozens of journalists seen as critical of the state.

Thousands of people have also been detained since deadly anti-government protests erupted in the country in 2015.

Over the past months, there has also been infighting within the ruling EPRDF coalition, which has been in power for 25 years.

The Oromo Peoples' Democratic Organisation and the Amhara National Democratic Movement, which are part of the coalition, have been pushing for increased political space and “respect of their people” following the protests. This has led the prime minister to acknowledge the need for change.


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