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News Analysis: Opposition parties protest release of top former TPLF officials

By Mahlet Fasil @MahletFasil & Getahun Tsegaye @GetahunTsegay12

Addis Abeba, January 10/ 2021– Opposition parties, Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice, National Movement of Amhara (NAMA), and Enat Part denounced the release of top former TPLF officials Sebhat Nega, Mulu Gebre Egziabher, Kidusan Nega, Ambassador Abadi Zemu and Abay Woldu.

NAMA called the move a ‘big historical mistake’ that seriously undermines the interests and dignity of the country and its people. NAMA argued that the government’s decision to release the leaders of the designated terrorist organization (TPLF)  unconditionally without preconditions and explanations devalues the sacrifices paid by all Ethiopians for the survival of the national country and the peace and security of its people. “The decision is inhumane and unjust made in the name of forgiveness and humanity,” the statement read. NAMA maintained that the war in northern Ethiopia is yet to be over and criticized the ruling party for heading toward post-conflict directions while the war is being reignited on all fronts. 

Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice, on its part, said, “Such hasty decisions undermine justice and erode trust in judiciary institutions. The party also criticized the government for conflating national dialogue with peace negotiations and monopolizing the process of national dialogue. “The government is handpicking the agendas and recruiting the participants of the dialogue while a commission is being set up to oversee the process,” the statement read. 

Another opposition party, Enat party, released a statement opposing the decision made by the government to release prominent political figures. “Unexpectedly lifting charges of founders of a designated terrorist organization accused of treason shows interference in the justice system and authoritarianism,” the statement read, adding,” the decision was made to defend the ruling party’s grip on power instead of national sovereignty and public safety.”

According to the minister of justice, Gideon Timotheos, the government’s decision to drop charges by releasing some detainees will contribute to the inclusiveness of the planned national dialogue. “The decision was passed taking into account national inclusiveness, humanity, and compassion,” he said. 

 In connection with this, in a public speech held at the inauguration of the new building of the minister of defense headquarters, prime minister Abiy Ahmed addressed the outrage that followed the release of what he called, ‘defeated forces’.” We were shocked when we first heard the decision but we want it to be understood that it will benefit Ethiopia tremendously,” he said, adding, “It is a tough pill to swallow but I ask you to accept the decision for the sake of your country.”

On January 7, 2022, the government released f Eskinder Nega, founder of the opposition Balderas for Genuine Democracy as well as members of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) such as Jawar Mohammad, Bekele Gerba, Dejene Tafa, Hamza Borana, and many others. .AS

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