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Ethiopian PM vows to release political prisoners, close notorious prison

Ethiopian PM vows to release political prisoners, close notorious prison
From CBC - January 3, 2018

In a surprise move, Ethiopia's leader on Wednesday announced plans to drop charges against political prisoners and close a notorious prison camp in what he called an effort to "widen the democratic space for all."

Prime Minster Hailemariam Desalegn's comments came after anti-government protests engulfed much of the restive Oromia and Amhara regions in recent months, bringing many businesses, universities and transport networks to a standstill.

The sometimes deadly protests, the most serious since the current government came to power in 1991, spread into other parts of the East African country, leading to a months-long state of emergency that has since been lifted.

"Political prisoners that are facing prosecutions and are already under arrest will be released," Hailemariam said. "And the notorious prison cell that was traditionally called Maekelawi will be closed down and turned into a museum."

It was not immediately clear how many political prisoners were being held across the country, a close U.S. security ally.

'Struggling with my tears'

Ethiopians were quick to respond, even with social media sites currently blocked.

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