Ethiopian parliament approves amnesty for dissidents

AFP , Friday 20 Jul 2018

Abiy Ahmed
File photo: Ethiopia's PM Abiy Ahmed addresses the House of People's Representatives, July 6, 2018. (Reuters photo)

Ethiopia's parliament approved on Friday an amnesty for dissidents, thousands of whom have been released as part of a series of unprecedented reforms since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power.

"The law grants amnesty for individuals and groups either under investigation or convicted on treason, crime against the constitutional order and armed struggle," state-affiliated broadcaster Fana Broadcasting Corporate reported.

Abiy has been hailed by observers for his moves to shake-up the status quo in a nation long criticised by rights groups for the brutality of its security forces, the jailing of dissidents and its narrow political space.

Since coming to power in April thousands of prisoners, including high-profile opponents, have been released. He has also announced a slew of economic reforms and led a dizzying peace process with neighbouring Eritrea.

Abiy has prioritised reconciling with various opposition groups.

In July, state media reported that prison chiefs had been sacked for "failing to discharge their responsibilities and respect prisoners' human rights".

The announcement came as Human Rights Watch sounded the alarm over torture, rape and starvation at a notorious prison in the country's volatile Somali region.

The reforms represent a stark departure for the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) which, together with its allies, controls every seat in parliament.

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