Ethiopia has released a senior opposition leader from prison and dropped all charges against him after demonstrators blocked roads and staged protest rallies in several towns.
Bekele Gerba, secretary general of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), was arrested in December 2015 after mass protests broke out in the Oromiya region over accusations that farmers were being forced to sell land with scant compensation.
He was held initially on terrorism charges, later reduced to incitement to violence.
“He just walked out of prison. We have confirmed that all charges against him have been dropped,” said Mulatu Gemechu, a member of the OFC’s leadership.
State-affiliated media confirmed Bekele had been freed along with seven other opposition figures and that the charges against him had been dropped. Ethiopia’s information minister was not available for comment.
Bekele’s release came amid a three-day strike across Oromiya province, which surrounds the capital, as well as a mass pardoning of dissidents by the government aimed at reducing unrest that has simmered since 2015. […] CONTINUE READING