Patriarch Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia says he plans to introduce a law that could automatically ban radical ideologies like that espoused by the Islamist leader that has waged a deadly insurgency in the country’s countryside. The Ethiopian leader says the sweeping measures are meant to forestall more bloodshed, as he awaits the results of the first election in two decades without an opposition candidate.
Beside revoking the death penalty for non-violent protestors, Abiy has already met with opposition leaders, promised a semblance of democracy, and opened Ethiopia’s doors to international food aid.
“We are opening up the process,” he said in a televised speech this week. “Anybody who decides to pursue justice can do so … I didn’t say this in a very strong fashion, but the opening-up process is to end fear and fearlessness.”
“I received a letter from Abiy saying that the new government is ready to issue a decree to amend the constitution and the state of emergency,” opposition figure Fitsum Arega, who lost the 2018 election to Abiy and whose opposition newspaper was recently shut down, told The Washington Post this week. “But it didn’t have the details.”
An international war crimes tribunal issued an arrest warrant for Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in 2017 over a bomb attack that killed more than 70 people in his home town of Mekelle. He has yet to be charged with any crimes, and resigned after Hailemariam was elected.
While Ethiopia has enjoyed relative peace for nearly a decade, the resurgent insurgency by the rebel group Al-Shabab has stirred tension in the region. In late 2017, Al-Shabab rebels raided a town east of Addis Ababa, an attack that Hailemariam blamed on neighboring Eritrea. The African Union said the attack threatened security on the Red Sea and underscored the need for increased international support.
Ethiopia and Eritrea fell out in 1998, after Asmara refused to abide by a UN border demarcation. In the ensuing decades, the border has often been disputed, and relations have deteriorated further since the political crisis in Sudan in 2011.
At the start of his term, Abiy reportedly told a U.S. delegation that he plans to introduce a law to ban all ideologies that, he said, often resemble terrorism.
His spokeswoman did not return phone calls asking about the decree or how the new law would be implemented.
Read the full story at The Washington Post.
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