During the much anticipated press conference given by the chairmen of the four member parities that make up the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Front, Prime Minister Hailemariam announced the government's plan to drop charges and pardon imprisoned politicians and individuals who have been in jail for the crimes they committed.
The Prime Minister stated that "it is known that there are political leaders and individuals whose crimes have resulted in court convictions or have resulted in their ongoing prosecution under the country's law. However, to create favorable condition to national consensus and due to our belief that we can simultaneously expand our democratic horizons, some of them will be pardoned as per the law's of pardon and the constitution."
The decision is seen by many as a big step to widen up the political space and create national consensus and many urged the government to keep its promise. On Monday, as the first step of this promise, Attorney General Getachew Ambaye announced that the Federal Attorney has dropped charges against 528 suspects in the first round.
Among those who are going to be released, 115 are federal detainees while the rest are from the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples State. The suspected would be released as of yesterday after they received orientation about the current political development of the nation.
In fact, those who are going to be released include only those who are not involved in killings, causing serious injuries and damage to people and infrastructures respectively. In addition, it is also mandatory that they have not played any key role in an effort to dismantle the constitutional order.
In fact, this release seems to be only the start. An investigation is going on to release additional prisoners, according to the government.
While the government is taking this bold move, the individuals have also the responsibility to use this opportunity to play constructive roles. They are given with the responsibility to serving their country, develop the culture of dialogue and prevent unrest and order. Hence, they have to be productive and constructive members of the society. They have to have respect for the law and the constitution.
In recent times, unprecedented events have emerged in Ethiopia's political scene. And there are grounds for hope and optimism. The release of prisoners is yet another positive development for the country's political landscape. It is to be recalled that the incumbent and 15 opposition parties agreed to reform the country's electoral system and adopted a mixed electoral system in Ethiopia which constitutes majority system and proportional representation. This shows there is always room for broader and more inclusive discussions. While these decisions would help build the spirit of national consensus and would shed the light of optimism, the positive development has to be strengthened by inviting other forces in to the discussion table.
Due emphasis has to be given to dialogue, mutual understanding and discussion than issues that lead to polarization. The willingness to engage in dialogue has to be encouraged and further strengthened. Besides political parties, civic societies have to be also encouraged to flourish and contribute their own positive contribution to the positive development so far. What is clear is that what has been happening in recent times in Ethiopia's political landscape give grounds for optimism.