Ethiopia to Amend Anti-Terror Laws in Sign of Political Thaw
By Nizar Manek
- Parties to meet today after agreement on changing legislation
- Authorities free more prisoners, drop charges against critics
(bloomberg)–Ethiopia’s government plans to amend parts of the nation’s anti-terror law as the high court dropped terrorism charges against the heads of two U.S.-based opposition groups.
The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front and other political parties will meet Wednesday after agreeing to alter unspecified articles of the law, Fana Broadcasting Corp. reported. The chief of staff for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Twitter that a draft amnesty law is being prepared, without giving further details.
The meeting follows the dropping of charges against Berhanu Nega of the Ginbot 7 group, Jawar Mohammed who heads the Minnesota-based Oromia Broadcasting Network, and another opposition media organization, ESAT. They’re the latest signs of a political thaw in the Horn of Africa nation that’s been tightly controlled by the EPRDF for a quarter-century.
Since taking office in April, Abiy has released thousands of prisoners and started talks with other opposition groups. His predecessor, Hailemariam Desalegn, quit in February after failing to end sporadic regional protests that began almost three years ago.
Ethiopia on May 26 pardoned 745 prisoners including Andargachew Tsige, a British citizen and secretary-general of Ginbot 7 who was on death row, Fana reported.
The European Union delegation in Ethiopia welcomed the dropping of legal charges and Andargachew’s release.
Along with other recent steps, “this signals the willingness of the new government to address the grievances expressed by the population including demands to open up political space in Ethiopia,” it said in an emailed statement, urging the government to lift a current state of emergency as soon as possible.