Merera Gudina could be released until this Wednesday if what the Federal prosecutor says is not “misquoted”
January 15, 2018
Ethiopian government Federal prosecutor announced today that it dropped charges against Merera Gudina, chairman of Oromo Federalist Congress, who has been in jail since for well over a year now. He was arrested upon return to Ethiopia from what his party says is a working visit to Europe.
Merera Gudina pleaded not guilty when he appeared in court in October of 2016 charged with “inciting violence and threatening the constitutional order” in Ethiopia.
It is not clear if secretary of Oromo Federalist Congress, Bekele Gerba, whose case is in court and was sentenced for six months for contempt during court appearance last week, is on the list of people to be released.
In what the Federal prosecutor says is a first round,according to pro-government media outlets in the country, a total of 528 “suspects” are identified to be released, apparently by this Wednesday.
Recent ruling party statement, it was also noted during a two hours long presser with state media, said that it would release politicians “who have committed crime and whose cases are in court and those who are convicted” in the interest of national reconciliation and so as to broaden the political space in the country.
For millions of politicized Ethiopians, the only crime of what government described as “politicians who committed crime” is being opposition politicians with dissenting views and their arrest has a lot to do with government intention to intimidate meaningful opposition political activity no matter how peaceful it is.
The Federal prosecutor says that of the prisoners to be released, including Merera Gudia, about one hundred and fifteen of them were charged in a federal court while four hundred and thirteen are from “Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region”, one of the nine ethnic-based federal regions in the country. What seem to be tricky about the release of prisoners from Southern region is that the prisoners were arrested in connection with conflicts in Gedio and Konso regions of Southern Ethiopia.
The names of many leading politicians whose case is in Federal court does not seem to be in the list of people to be released either.
It is to be remembered that a day after prime minister Hailemariam Desalegne stated, during a presser with state media some two weeks ago, stated that all political prisoners in the country will be released and the government will also shutdown Maekelawi, torture chamber in the country, only to disown his words after news of “all political prisoners will be released” made headlines. The prime minister disowned his words on grounds that he was “misquoted” by media regarding release of political prisoners ; of course his government denies existence of political prisoners in the first place.
There has been rumor that the intelligence chief,who is from Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), is on a collision course with the executives regarding lists of political prisoners to be released.
Many analysts and opposition politicians accuse the ruling party if having no serious interest in broadening the political space in the country. Apart from not releasing political prisoners, the TPLF regime is slowly reverting back to its belligerent instinct ; two days ago hundreds of fans of Fasil Kenema were arrested for chanting anti-government slogans in the capital Addis Ababa.
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