Ethiopia says it will free all of its political prisoners

Ethiopia to close notorious prison and free all political prisoners

"The crackdown on the political opposition saw mass arbitrary arrests, torture and other ill-treatment, unfair trials and violations of the rights to freedom of expression and association", rights group Amnesty International has said. Martin Plaut is a journalist specialising in the Horn of Africa and Southern Africa, and senior research fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies.

Political prisoners that are facing prosecutions and are already under arrest will be released.

"In order to build national consensus and widen the democratic platform, a decision has been made to drop charges and pardon imprisoned politicians", Hailemariam declared at the event.

Desalegn said the move would bring some respite to the two years of anti-government protests in Oromia, the largest and most populous region in the country. The demonstrations began in 2015, initially to protest government development plans near the capital, Addis Ababa.

Present during the address were members of the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front.

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The prime minister also indicated that by turning Maekelawi into a museum, the government will set up another investigation center in line with the Ethiopian constitution and the country's human rights laws.

Ethiopia's government has attempted to downplay the prime minister's announcement.

Many ethnic Oromos and Amharas which make about 33 and 27 percent of Ethiopia's estimated 100 million population accuse ethnic Tigrayans who make up six percent of the nation's population of unduly dominating the country's political and economic scene.

And in an interview with NPR, Tekle adds that the Ethiopian government is faced with a choice: "My wishful thinking is that there will be reform because through [the] hard way, through crisis and through unrest, the Ethiopian government. has learned that repression is not going to work in Ethiopia".

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