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Monday, August 20, 2007

Ethiopia pardons 31 more opposition activists for role in election protests
Jeannie Shawl at 9:43 AM ET

[JURIST] Ethiopian officials have released 31 opposition activists from custody after the members of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy [party website] reportedly apologized [ENA report] for their roles in mass anti-government demonstrations that followed Ethiopia's contested 2005 elections. The 31 CUD members were never charged with any crime, but were released Saturday after Ethiopia's Board of Pardon reviewed their cases. According to the Ethiopian Ministry of Justice, the activists admitted to attempting to "change the constitutional system through force." The detainees were granted a full pardon, and according to a presidential advisor are now eligible to run for office in Ethiopia and remain active in the CUD. Advisor Bereket Simon said that the pardons show that Ethiopia respects the rule of law.

Thirty-eight other CUD members were pardoned [JURIST report] in July after first being sentenced to prison [JURIST report] for their roles in the 2005 protests. The 2005 elections were marred by allegations of fraud [JURIST report] and an Ethiopian inquiry team charged with investigating the violence that was part of protest demonstrations said last year that approximately 193 civilians were killed by Ethiopian security forces [JURIST report], an estimate nearly three times the official number initially reported by the government. AP has more. Reuters has additional coverage.

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