Who would expect that Andargachew Tsige would be released before the collapse of the regime in power let alone imagining him having a political discussion with the prime minister of Ethiopia? It all happened.
The political situation in Ethiopia is changing fast and what happened today is a clear testimony to that reality. Secretary of Ginbot 7 movement, Andarghachew Tsige, who was behind bars for about four years after he was abducted in 2014 and released yesterday met with prime minister Abiy Ahmed today and discussed politics.
Images of Andargachew Tsige shaking hands with Abiy Ahmed was released on social media. Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) confirmed that Andargachew has indeed discussion with Prime minister Abiy Ahmed regarding a range of issues in Ethiopian politics but restrained himself from giving out details.
Executive committee of the ruling party met in December of 2017 amid relentless anti-government protest in the country and decided to close down notorious torture camber, Maekelawi,and release political prisoners although the government advanced the position for too long that there are no political prisoners in the country. Releasing political prisoners was not an end in itself. It was rather a means to achieve national reconciliation, which the party rejected for a long time as irrelevant, through broadening the “democratic space” in the country. Many political prisoners are released but it is believed that there are still political prisoners.
The release of Andarchew Tsige was not an easy undertaking for the ruling party as was the case when he was captured four years ago; a huge sum of US currency is believed to be paid out to Yemeni security officials. Political discussion within the ruling party regarding the release of Andargachew Tsige has caused further division, according to media sources who claim to have information from insiders.
Amhara People’s Democratic Movement( ANDM) is the party that initiated the issue of the release of Andargachew Tsige on grounds that if the national reconciliation agenda is to involve Ethiopian living abroad, it will be problematic without the release of Andargachew Tsige. On the other hand, TPLF faction within the ruling coalition opposed the idea arguing that releasing Andargachew Tsige would be tantamount to encouraging “Terrorism,” according to Wazema radio.
Once agreement was reached on the release of Andargachew Tsige, the difference between TPLF and progressive forces in the ruling coalition came down to the question of as to whether Andargachew has to leave the country in no time or allow him to visit his father who was the only person allowed to visit him during the four years of his incarceration. Apparently, TPLF wanted Andargache Tsige to leave Ethiopia for the United Kingdom. The motive behind TPLF position was to avoid what it thought to be a political defeat. As it turns out, TPLF lost that position too. Andargachew was released and allowed to visit his father in the capital while the UK embassy process travel arrangements.
Activists and youth group in Addis Ababa organized event to celebrate Andargachew as he arrives to his father’s home in Bole area. Outside of the country Ethiopians cross cities in North America,Europe and elsewhere organized similar events to celebrate a man who was charged with “terrorism” and put on death row. The events have clearly caused anger among TPLF elites and some have been even calling for the rearrest of Andargachew Tsige on grounds of making “political rallies without valid visa” in the capital.
Andargachews’ meeting with Abiy Amhed came as a surprise in that light. The new prime minister is capitalizing on the agenda of creating national consensus and has been meeting with different opposition groups. Last week, leaders of Oromo Democratic Front leaders who were among the pioneers of ethnic based political parties in Ethiopia arrived in the country “for political dialogue” and held discussions with the prime minister.
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