ADDIS ABABA, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) — The Ethiopia Federal Attorney General announced on Monday it has dropped charges against prominent Oromo opposition figure Bekele Gerba who is in prison on terrorism charges, reported state affiliated media outlet Radio Fana.
Six other suspects had also their terrorism charges dropped, it reported.
Gerba, deputy head of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), has been in jail for more than two years over terrorism charges relating to allegations of instigating unrest in Ethiopia’s largest regional state Oromia.
OFC is the main opposition party to the ruling coalition Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) in the restive central Oromia regional state.
It isn’t clear whether the discontinuation of charges would lead to the immediate release of Gerba, as he has recently been sentenced to one-year imprisonment for contempt of court by the Ethiopian Federal High Court.
As the Attorney General does not have the authority to free Gerba from his sentence for contempt of court, it is expected his case will be referred to the Office of the Ethiopia President Mulatu Teshome for pardon.
The release of prominent opposition figures was part of slogans protesters used to demand political and economic change in Ethiopia.
The unrest in 2016 led to the deaths of hundreds and was dubbed by analysts as the gravest challenge the ruling coalition Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front faced in 25 years.
The unrest involving parts of the three most populous regions Amhara, Oromia and Southern regional states led to an imposition of martial law in October 2016 which was only lifted in August 2017.