Government Pardons Twenty-five CUD Supporters

The Ethiopian government has pardoned twenty five prisoners who were found guilty in connection to the unrest that rocked the nation following the May 2005 elections. The twenty five prisoners who had been sentenced for up to 20 years were pardoned after the continued mediation of the Council of Elders council led by Professor Ephraim Yishak.

Dr. Yacob Hailemariam, Engineer Gizachew Shiferaw, and Birtukan Medeksa were negotiating for prisoners pardon. Birtukan told Capital that the prisoners were released on Friday, February 8, 2008. She added that there are still ten prisoners who are expected to be pardoned soon. Few others whose case is still pending are awaiting sentencing prior being pardon.

In a recent development, after electing twelve Members of Parliament to the supreme council last week, Birtukan’s group is making continuous attempts to bring other MPs who are participating in the House of Peoples Representatives outside Temesgen Zewde’s (MP) group, which is now forced to abandon the ‘CUD’ name in parliament following Ayele Chamiso’s win in the battle for the name.

Engineer Gizachew Shiferaw told Capital that the attempt falls under the overall plan they are working on to bring all former ‘members of the family’ together. “We wanted to gather the MPs so that when they go to their respective woredas they were elected from, they can explain to the people what is really going on,” Engineer Gizachew explained. “What is happening is not forming a new party or collecting some group and discarding others to create another party. We only demand a democratic system and respect of the party laws.” Engineer Gizachew added that they are working with all parliamentarians without excluding anyone so that they can get legality under a new name but with the former structure and policy.

Some reports claimed that MPs outside the group led by Temesgen Zewde, who claim to represent some 25 members, denounced the election of twelve MPs from Temesgen’s group to the Supreme Council. The election was approved by nine executive committee members of the former CUD.

Temesgen told Capital the number of MPs who are not included in his group is below ten and they don’t have good intentions at heart. “This should be a time to unite and work together but from the beginning these parliamentarians were not willing to do so. First they went after the leadership then they tried to side with one of the groups and disturb the process and now they say they are trying to mediate the two groups,” Temesgen added.

Engineer Hailu Shawul’s group still hasn’t given up the CUD name. It was reported that Abayneh Berhanu, who is acting on Hailu’s behalf, announced that he has requested the Electoral Board to return the election emblem which is now a property of Lidetu Ayalew’s (MP) party, as well as the ‘CUD’ name which Ayele Chamiso now owns.

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