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No outside pressure for the release of political prisoners: FM spokesperson

30 migrants to be repatriated from Libya
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoF) says the government of Ethiopia is ready to release political prisoners and thus create a national consensus in the country. The Ministry spokesperson added that this was an internal decision that was made without regard to outside pressure.
Capital asked Meles Alem, spokesperson for MoF, if there was any foreign pressure from the European Union, USA, Amnesty international or any other human rights organization behind their action.
“No it is not due to external pressure it is our government’s decision”, he said.
At a news conference with leaders of the four parties making up the ruling coalition, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said that some members of political parties under prosecution will be released and that those convicted will be pardoned based on an assessment “to establish a national consensus and widen the political sphere,” according to a statement released by his office.
The Maekelawi Detention Center in downtown Addis Ababa will be closed and turned into a museum, the statement added. The opposition has long demanded the closure of the prison while also calling for the release of prominent opposition figures held in detention.
The government did not disclose the list the prisoners who will be released after the PM made the statement.
The opposition parties have frequently asked the government to release opposition figures held in detention.
In his statement Meles added that Ethiopia is working with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to bring back 30 Ethiopian migrants from Libya.
‘’Our embassy in Cairo has prepared travelling documents to bring these Ethiopians and we will do the same thing to bring back more Ethiopians from Libya to save them from bad living conditions,’’ he added.
Many African migrants have been sold in modern-day slave markets in Libya, based on information from the IOM.
The International Organization for Migration estimates that there are 700,000 to one million migrants in Libya, and more than 2,000 have died at sea this year.
Most of the migrants in Libya are fleeing armed conflict, persecution or severe economic hardship in sub-Saharan Africa. Their journey usually begins with a deadly trek through vast deserts to Libya and then involves either braving the Mediterranean Sea on rickety boats headed to Europe or struggling to survive in one of the overcrowded detention centers run by smugglers on the Libyan coastline.
In a press statement the spokesperson added that the Ethiopian government opened three embassies in 2017 in Morocco, Algeria and Rwanda. This means Ethiopia has 43 embassies and 15 in Africa.


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