Reported tension between executive and intelligence authorities over list of political prisoners

• Friction between executive and intelligence authorities in Ethiopia
• Government denies that it did not say all political prisoners will be released

Ethiopia _ News
Hailemariam Desalegne and Mulatu Teshome

borkena
January 4,2017

A day after the Ethiopian government promised to release political prisoners (government calls them criminals) in an effort to “broaden the democratic space”in the country, there seem to be a bit of blurry and confusing information.

A local newspaper with close links to the ruling party, Ethiopian Reporter, indicated in its report today that members of opposition parties and leaders who are in prison could be released latest by this Saturday. Merara Gudina and Bekele Gerba, chairman and first secretary of Oromo Federalist Congress, respectively, are presumed to be among the leaders to be released.

The Office of Mulatu Teshome, president of Ethiopia, who has the constitutional power to grant amnesty to convicted prisoners, has requested prison authorities to send lists of convicted political party members and leaders. He has also requested Federal government prosecutor to hand over lists of political leaders and members whose case is still in court.

Meanwhile, there is reported tension between intelligence chief on the one hand, and the executive and the judiciary on the other following the decision to release some political prisoners which the Ethiopian government announced yesterday. The tension is over the lists of people to be released.

Member parties of the ruling EPRDF coalition have requested, says a report by Wazema Radio, the lists of prisoners to be released beforehand. The report, which cited anonymous insider sources, added that OPDO leadership have stretched themselves so as to get information in that regard but authorities in the intelligence unit are vowing to cross off names of some prisoners whom they consider as a `threat“ for the country.

Today, the Ethiopian government denied that it did not say all political prisoners will be release. BBC reported today that “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.”

There are fears that releasing political prisoners selectively will cause renewed protest across the country. Some analysts seem to think that the hitherto dominant party in the ruling coalition TPLF, which do not seem to accept the reality that its domination is no longer acceptable for member parties which are in fact much bigger in terms of constituency,could carry out the executive decision to release prisoners in a way to bring about division among the parties that are challenging its domination.



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