13 February 2018

Ethiopia: Govt to Drop Charges Against Top Dissident Bekele Gerba

Photo: addis Standard
Politician Bekele Gerba in jail

Ethiopia will drop charges against top dissident Bekele Gerba, state media reported Monday.

The move is the latest by the Ethiopian government following up on Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn's promise last month to begin releasing political prisoners.

"The federal attorney general today dropped charges against seven suspects, including Bekele Gerba," state-affiliated Fana Broadcast Corporate reported.

"The move is part of the decisions made by [the] Executive Committee of EPRDF to drop charges against and pardon politicians and individuals, in order to build national consensus and widen the political space," the broadcaster said, referring to the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front.

Gerba, a foreign-language professor and deputy leader of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), was arrested in December 2015 as his ethnic group began protesting laws they feared would lead to them losing their land.

Since then, Gerba has faced additional charges, including "contempt" and six months in prison after he sang a protest song in court.

It is still unclear when Gerba will be released and whether the pardon includes charges he has incurred since his initial arrest.

The planned release and other recent prisoner releases are aimed at reducing tensions in the Horn of Africa country following a wave of anti-government protests in 2015 and 2016, mainly in the southern Oromia region, that sparked a nationwide state of emergency and a government crackdown.

The attorney general said 417 of those to be released are convicted prisoners, while another 329 are suspects still awaiting trial.


Part-time Pastor's Jesus Moment Goes South After Dead Man Stays Dead

A health worker who managed to convince a family that he could resurrect their dead relative is in hot water after he… Read more »

See What Everyone is Watching

Copyright © 2018 Voice of America. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 700 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.