Ethiopia pardons top rebel leader
Ethiopia on Saturday ordered the release of a top member of an armed opposition group whose 2014 arrest in Yemen was internationally condemned.
Attorney general Birhanu Tsegaye said Andargachew Tsige of the outlawed Ginbot 7 group would be among 756 people released in a “special” round of pardons, the state-affiliated Fana Broadcast Corporate reported.
“The decision was made as the individuals have demonstrated remorse, the attorney general said, adding it is also aimed at broadening the political space,” Fana reported.
Andargachew was arrested in June 2014 at Yemen’s Sanaa airport en route to Eritrea and transferred to Ethiopia the same day, sparking criticism from Britain. Andargachew also holds British citizenship.
The Foreign Office slammed Yemen for extraditing Andargachew in defiance of international law and urged Ethiopia to ensure his safety.
Ethiopia, which considers Ginbot 7 a terrorist group, had accused Andargachew of plotting attacks and training opposition groups in its neighbour and arch-foe Eritrea.
Shortly after his arrest, Andargachew appeared on state television, proclaiming “peace” with Ethiopia and vowing to “calm down.”
Rights groups have criticised Ethiopia for using association with the group as a reason to prosecute politicians and journalists opposed to the one-party rule of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front.
Since the start of the year, Ethiopia has released thousands of prisoners in mass amnesties that began under former prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn and were continued by his successor Abiy Ahmed.
Africa’s second most-populous country remains under a nationwide state of emergency after Hailemariam’s February resignation.
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