Last week prime minister Abiy Ahmed reached an agreement with Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir in a range bilateral and regional issues when he was in Sudan for a two days state visit.
Apart from agreeing to invest in Port Sudan as an alternative import and export access point for Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed secured the word of Al-Bashir for the release of Ethiopian prisoners in Sudan.
Today, government-affiliated media outlets in Ethiopia reported that Sudan released 1400 Ethiopian prisoners after Omar Hassan Al-Bashir issued a decree for their release. They were held in different prisons across Sudan.
Abiy requested the government of Kenya as well to release Ethiopians who are in different prisons across the country and to treat Ethiopians who are in Kenya for different reasons with dignity. No Ethiopians are yet released. However, president Uhuru Kenyatta’s government has agreed to release Ethiopians.
Despite skepticism on numerous pledges made during a meeting with Ethiopians in different parts of Ethiopia, Prime minister Abiy Ahmed’s effort to protect Ethiopians outside of the country has earned him notable respect even in the opposition quarter and among Ethiopians in the diaspora. Unlike previous Ethiopian governments, it was not in the tradition of the ruling party, whose chairman in now Abiy Ahmed, to stand up for the rights of Ethiopians. In fact, the administration of the late Meles Zenawi was criticized for using foreign agents at attack or humiliate Ethiopians who oppose his government.
Another important development today regarding the release of prisoners, at home, is that government decided to drop charges of 64 prisoners including Dr. Fikru Maru, Ethiopian born Swedish cardiologist who founded the first cardiology hospital in Ethiopia. They were charged in connection with prison fire at Qilinto in August 2016. That too is seen as another positive step by Abiy Ahmed’s government.
Yet, Ethiopians are reminding the government of Abiy Ahmed to release all political prisoners including Andargachew Tsige leader of Patriotic Ginbot 7 movement who was abducted while in transition at Sana’a international airport in 2013. Ethiopian government intelligence unit allegedly corrupted Yemen security forces to capture him.
Ethiopian activists based in Ethiopia launched a three days cyber campaign to demand the release of Andargachew Tsige. And there seem to be some hope that prime minister Abiy Ahmed will exercise his power to release him from prison and join his family back in Britain.
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