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Ethiopia Announces Pardon of More Than 2,000 Prisoners

Supporters celebrate as they welcome Merera Gudina, leader of the Oromo Federalist Congress party after his release from prison in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jan. 17, 2018.

Officials in Ethiopia’s Oromia region say they have pardoned more than 2,000 prisoners who were arrested during political unrest in 2015 and 2016.

Oromia region spokesman Addisu Arega announced on social media Friday that 2,345 prisoners arrested for allegedly taking part in violent protests have been pardoned. Of those, 1,568 had been convicted and sentenced.

Officials say those pardoned are expected to be released in a few days after taking rehabilitation courses.

The United Nations last week urged Ethiopia to review the status of those people behind bars, because the government has been accused of using security concerns to stifle dissent and media freedom.

Ethiopian officials have denied those accusations, but the government earlier released Merera Gudina, a leading opposition figure, and 114 other people, saying it wants to “widen the democratic space for all.”