Ethiopia’s prime minister stunned the country Wednesday by announcing plans to release imprisoned politicians and close a notorious detention center as he seeks to promote political dialogue. It is a bold move for this U.S. ally and bulwark of regional stability that has repeatedly been criticized for its heavy-handed treatment of the opposition.
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. “It was absolutely not clear what the prime minister was saying,” said Yacob Hailemariam, a lawyer in Addis Ababa, the capital.