Amnesty for prominent Ethiopian figures ahead of Orthodox Christmas

Ethiopia’s government says it will free several prominent opposition figures as the country marks Orthodox Christmas.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said the government was making the move in a bid to achieve national reconciliation and to promote unity.

Leaders of the rebel Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front will be among those pardoned in the amnesty.

“Its purpose is to pave the way for a lasting solution to Ethiopia’s problems in a peaceful, non-violent way… especially with the aim of making the all-inclusive national dialogue a success,” the statement added.

The surprise pardon comes amid a lull in the 15-month long conflict, which has recently seen government forces retake the initiative and capture several rebel-held towns.

The Tigray conflict broke out in November 2020 after Mr Abiy ordered a military offensive against regional forces in the area. He said he did so in response to an attack on a military base housing government troops there.

The escalation came after months of feuding between Mr. Abiy’s government and leaders of the TPLF.

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