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Release of detainees a ‘significant confidence-building step’ in Ethiopia: UN chief

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UN Secretary-General António Guterres (file photo).

The Ethiopian Government on Friday freed several high-profile political detainees, a move UN Secretary-General António Guterres hailed as a “significant confidence-building step”. 

Some leaders from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which has been battling government forces in the north for more than a year, were among those granted amnesty, according to media reports. 

Ceasefire appeal 

“I welcome today’s release from prison in Ethiopia of numerous detainees, including key opposition figures,” the UN chief said in a statement.   

“I call upon the parties to build on this significant confidence-building step by agreeing a cessation of hostilities and a lasting ceasefire, as well as launching a credible and inclusive national dialogue and reconciliation process.” 

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The Secretary-General said he will remain actively engaged with all stakeholders in assisting Ethiopia in efforts to end the fighting and restore peace and stability. 

Peace and prosperity 

The UN estimates more than five million people in the northern regions of Tigray, Amhara and Afar require humanitarian assistance. 

Last month, the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva voted to establish an international expert commission to investigate allegations of violations during the conflict. 

The decision to release the detainees took place on Orthodox Christmas, a major holiday in Ethiopia.   

Extending his warm wishes to those who are celebrating, Mr. Guterres added, “may the spirit of this celebration contribute to a peaceful and prosperous Ethiopia.” 

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