Ethiopia has freed high-profile leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress and the newly formed Balderas party, the Government Communications Service reported on Friday.
Sebhat Nega, who founded the TPLF and has led it for decades, along with his sister Kidusan Nega, were pardoned, along with three others arrested during the military operation.
Oromo Federalist leader Jewar Mohammed and other party members incarcerated with Mohammed, suspected of inciting unrest after the assassination of Oromo singer Hachalu Hundesa, have been released, according to a statement.
Eskinder Nega, a journalist and leader of the newly formed Balderas Party, and all the party’s detained leaders have also been released.
The pardons coincide with Ethiopian Christians celebrating Christmas.
“In our culture, the end of conflict is reconciliation and forgiveness; We are a people with the values of reconciliation and peace, even to the point of marrying bloodthirsty militants, ” the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation quoted Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in his Christmas message.
TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda acknowledged the prime minister’s willingness to forgive some of his officials and replied that he was talking effusively.
“Abiy Ahmed is waxing lyrical about forgiveness and chivalry in his Christmas message today. He would have you believe that he feels strongly about those values and exhorts us to follow suit,” said Reda.
“His daily routine of denying medication to helpless children of sending drones targeting civilians flies full in the face of his self-righteous claims. He is the linchpin of a criminal enterprise bent on destroying a nation but he would have you believe he is head of a well-intentioned project gone awry.”
Ethiopia has been waging a war between Tigrayan and government forces for more than a year. There have been thousands of deaths and many people displaced as a result of the bloody war between the two sides since November 2020.
The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights have issued a joint report accusing the Tigray Special Forces, the Eritrean Defense Force (EDF) and the Ethiopian National Defense Force of destroying infrastructure.
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