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Dr Merera speaks to DW Amharic for the first time after being released.

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Added by addis in News Politics
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Ethiopia  Dr Merera speaks to DW Amharic for the first time after being released.

Merera becomes the first ‘political prisoner’ to be released since Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced on 3 January that the government will pardon several convicted politicians and those with cases in court in a bid to foster national cohesion.

Prison authorities told his family that he was released on Wednesday morning and allowed to go back home.

Merera, the leader of the Oromo Federalist Congress, has been in prison since December 2016 and was facing multiple charges, including association with terrorist groups. He denied the charges.

UNPO welcomes the news of the release of Oromo opposition leader Dr Merera Gudina on Wednesday 17 January 2018. Dr Gudina had been a political prisoner for over a year after having been arrested by the Ethiopian government upon his return from meetings with European Union (EU) officials in Brussels. Being the Chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress, he had addressed institutions such as the European Parliament in November 2016 and giving an account of the arbitrary arrests of thousands of Oromos, the crackdown of the Ethiopian government on the population and the corrupt local and federal governments. Shortly after his return to Ethiopia, Dr Gudina was arrested and charged with terrorism and other criminal offences for anti-government and anti-constitutional activism. 

While the Ethiopian government accused him of communicating, during his visit in Brussels, with opposition leaders labelled as terrorists by Ethiopia, Dr Gudina had objected the case and his lawyers called for his immediate release. Many international observers had since condemned his arrest and urged Ethiopia to release him and other political prisoners. Among these calls was that of  the EU which passed a resolution in May 2017 calling for the release of the political opponent and denouncing the use of anti-terrorism legislation as a means of suppressing political opposition. Also within Ethiopia protests against the government have only increased in recent months with claims including the release of opposition politicians, now forcing the Ethiopian government to take action.

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