Merera Gudina, the freed leader of Ethiopia’s main opposition party, the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) says he is doing well after over a year in detention.
The respected academic is reported by the BBC to have said he was ‘After 400 days in prison, I’m okay.’ On the back of a government call for engagement with the opposition, he added his readiness to engage with the regime.
“I’ve never broken the law. As a former member of parliament, I know the constitution and have always respected the law. I’m delighted to be released. The government says it wants to lay the groundwork for national reconciliation, that’s what I heard about the state media,” he said.
I've never broken the law. As a former member of parliament, I know the constitution and have always respected the law. I'm delighted to be released. The government says it wants to lay the groundwork for national reconciliation, that's what I heard about the state media.
Gudina was arrested in December 2016 at the airport when he arrived from Brissels where he met with the European Union parliament to discuss political events back home.
At the time, the government had imposed a six-month state of emergency meant to quell spreading anti-government protests that started in 2015. The protests centered mostly in the Oromia and Amhara regions.
He was charged for flouting the state of emergency when he met persons considered terrorists by Addis Ababa. He was charged with terrorism before it was later replaced with multiple criminal charges. His trial was severally postponed whiles he strictly maintained his innocence.
His release comes barely two weeks after the government said it was dropping cases against a number of politician prisonsers as a means of engendering national unity. Gudina and over 500 others were released in the first phase of the announced reform.