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Ethiopia: Freed opposition leader ready to take part in a national dialogue

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The Ethiopian journalist, blogger, and leader of The Balderas for Genuine Democracy party, Eskinder Nega, has communicated his aim to
partake in a ‘national dialogue’.

After over a year in jail, the 52-year-old opposition leader who recuperated his freedom last Friday is prepared to participate in a national discourse process. “If there is a dialogue, of course, we will be part of [it], he said. The country needs a national dialogue. Whether this will bear fruit, or whether this would be a trustworthy process, is another question.”

Eskinder Nega had been detained in a maximum-security jail in Addis Ababa following his participation in protests that took place in the capital following the murder of a famous Oromo singer. Following his liberation, he returned to a nation hit by an almost yearlong conflict opposing the military to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which has forced about 1.7 million people to escape from their homes.

The Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, had called for national reconciliation in his Orthodox Christmas message. He continued to pardon, on January 7, some prominent opposition figures as he hoped to “pave the way to a lasting solution to Ethiopia’s problems in a non-violent and peaceful
way.”

According to the founder of The Balderas for Genuine Democracy party,
the priority should be rebuilding peace and harmony: “The most important issue that we face as a nation today now is this war that’s being waged against our unity by the TPLF. Since they have lost power, now their interest is not only to change the government, but also to come back to power, to break up the country, and we need to stop that, we need to preserve our nation.”

In a first move to restore the solidarity of the country, and following an effective mission to end the advance of Tigrayan forces eager to march on Addis Abba, the Ethiopian federal army and its partners reported last December that they would not advance further into the
Tigray region.