Ethiopia’s government has denied that all political prisoners will be freed, saying that only some imprisoned politicians will be pardoned.
An aide to the prime minister said a mistranslation led to him being quoted as saying that all political prisoners would be freed to promote dialogue.
The prime minster also said a detention centre, allegedly used as a torture chamber, would be shut.
Ethiopia has been hit by a wave of political unrest in recent years.
Amnesty International welcomed the initial announcement, saying it could signal “the end of an era of bloody repression in Ethiopia” – although it warned that the closure of the Maekelawi detention centre should not be used to “whitewash” the “horrifying” events which took place under its roof.
Ethiopia has always denied that there were any political prisoners in the country, as alleged by human rights and opposition groups.
In a statement on Thursday, Prime Minster Hailemariam Desalegn’s office said that “some members of political parties and other individuals that have been allegedly suspected of committing crimes or those convicted will be pardoned or their cases interrupted based on an assessment that will be made so as to establish a national consensus and widen the political sphere”.
It remains unclear how many people will be freed, or when.
One of the main opposition groups, the Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum (Medrek), said the government often engaged in “face-saving” measures and tried to “buy time” when it was “cornered”.
Medrek was, nevertheless, prepared to enter into dialogue with the government, if it was genuine and the talks led to free and fair elections, said the group’s deputy leader, Beyene Petros. … READ MORE ON BBC NEWS
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