Ethiopia to release all political prisoners, close notorious camp

Ethiopia to release all political prisoners, close notorious camp

In this regard, Desalegn reported that the charges against political prisoners facing trial will be eliminated, a measure that in his opinion will 'expand the democratic space for all'.

In what appears to be a concrete answer to the preoccupations of the public, the Ethiopian government had been undertaking various measures over the past two and half years, which include a large scale anti-corruption investigation and arrest of government officials.

Rights groups and opposition groups in Ethiopia had been calling for their release, saying they were arrested on trumped-up charges and punished for their points of view.

Ethiopia announced on Wednesday it will release jailed opposition figures as part of an amnesty program to create national consensus and speed up democratization. He said he made the decision to allow for political dialogue.

"Also, the notorious prison cell that was traditionally called Maekelawi, will be closed down and turned into a museum".

Ethiopia's government has always been accused of arresting critical journalists and opposition leaders.

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Rallies over land rights then broadened into demonstrations over political restrictions and perceived rights abuses, including the incarceration of Merera Gudina and Bekele Gerba - leaders of the opposition group the Oromo Federalist Congress.

Desalegn, who had promised the general public to reshuffle his government, had also introduced new cabinet members, of which only 9 of the ministers in the 30-member cabinet remained in their previous positions.

Elias Meseret is an Associated Press writer.

Tens of thousands of people were arrested, and reportedly hundreds were killed, during the protests demanding wider freedoms that began in late 2015 and disrupted one of Africa's fastest growing economies.

"Potentially big news", Human Rights Watch researcher Felix Horne said on Twitter after the announcement, as some observers waited to see the government's next move.

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