UN chief welcomes release of Ethiopian detainees

Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopian PM:

By Cecilia Ologunagba

UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, on Friday welcomed the release from prison of numerous detainees, including key opposition figures in Ethiopia.

Guterres, in a statement, called on the parties involved to embrace dialogue and reconciliation to bring lasting peace to the country.

Ethiopia on Friday freed several opposition leaders from prison and said it would begin dialogue with political opponents after 14 months of war when thousands of people have been arrested.

The move to free leaders from several ethnic groups is the most significant breakthrough since war broke out in the northern Tigray region, threatening the unity of Africa’s second-most populous state.

Some leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the party fighting Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s central government, are among those freed.

Guterres called upon the parties to build on this significant confidence-building step by agreeing a cessation of hostilities and a lasting ceasefire, as well as launching a credible and inclusive national dialogue and reconciliation process.

“I will remain actively engaged with all stakeholders in assisting Ethiopia to bring an end to the fighting and to restore peace and stability.

“Following my last contact with Prime Minister Ahmed, I also look forward to a meaningful improvement in humanitarian access to all areas affected by the year-long conflict,’’ he said.

He also extended his warm wishes to all Ethiopians celebrating Orthodox Christmas, praying that the celebration contributes to a peaceful and prosperous Ethiopia.