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

Eskinder Nega.   -  
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The Ethiopian journalist, blogger and founder of The Balderas for Genuine Democracy party, Eskinder Nega has expressed his intention to participate in a 'national dialogue'.

After more than a year in prison, the 52-year-old opposition leader who recovered his freedom last Friday is ready to take part in a national dialogue 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 Negad had been imprisoned in a maximum-security prison in Addis Ababa following his participation in protests that took place in the capital followed the murder of a popular Oromo singer. Following his liberation, he came back to a country hit by a nearly yearlong war opposing the military to the Tigray People's Liberation Front, which has forced some estimated 1.7 million people to flee their homes.

Paving the way for peace

The Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had called for national reconciliation in his Orthodox Christmas message. He proceeded to pardon on January 7 numerous 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 indeed be building back peace: "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, 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 unity of the nation, and following a successful campaign to halt the advance of Tigrayan forces eager to march on Addis Abba, the Ethiopian federal army and its allies announced last December they would not advance deeper into the Tigray region.

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