Ethiopia announces release of political prisoners

Ethiopia's authoritarian regime has announced the release of all political prisoners and closure of a detention center.

(The Washington Post) – Ethiopia’s prime minister shocked the country Wednesday by announcing the release of all political prisoners and the closure of a notorious detention center to promote political dialogue.

It is a bold move for this close U.S. ally and bulwark of regional stability that has repeatedly been criticized for its heavy-handed treatment of the opposition. The country has been hit by years of social unrest among its largest ethnic communities as well as rising differences within the ruling party.

At a joint news conference with leaders of the four parties making up the ruling coalition, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said “politicians” under prosecution will be released and those convicted will be pardoned “as a matter of national reconciliation and the expansion of democratic freedoms,” according to statements on the prime minister’s Facebook site. It is the first time the existence of political prisoners has been acknowledged.

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(AP Photo/Michael Tewelde, File)

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