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Roundup: Ethiopia's prominent gov't critic, activist returns home after over 2 decades in exile

Sunday September 2, 2018

Prominent Ethiopian government critic and human right activist, Tamagn Beyene, on Saturday returned home after more than two decades of strong opposition in exile.

Beyene, who was welcomed by senior Ethiopian government officials including Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen upon his arrival in Ethiopia, said that recent peaceful transition and reform within the Ethiopian government structure was the major factor for him to return to the east African country.

Mekonnen, who commended Beyene for his decision to return home, further called on Ethiopians in exile to follow suit, according to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

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Thousands of Ethiopians welcomed Beyene, who received street ovation and warm homecoming, upon his arrival in Ethiopia' capital Addis Ababa early Saturday.

Beyene is the latest of exiled Ethiopians who are flocking into the east African country following recent reform move by Ethiopia's ruling coalition the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

The Ethiopian government, following Ahmed's premiership in early April, has been implementing various decisions aimed at creating a nationwide reconciliation, which include the release of high-level political prisoners, invitation for Ethiopian rebel groups for talks as well as the decision to normalize relations with its regional arch-rival Eritrea.

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had also declared an amnesty invitation for exiled Ethiopian politicians, journalists and human right activists to return home and pursue their political activities in a peaceful manner.

Kassa Kebede, foreign policy chief of Ethiopia's former ruling party, is one among the many Ethiopians who have returned home after decades of stay in exile.

Kebede, one of the top leaders of the Ethiopian Workers' Party (EWP) that ruled the East African country for 17 years, has been in exile for about 27 years since the current ruling coalition came into power.

Notable other activists and journalists that have returned to the east African country also include Jawar Mohammer and Mohammed Ademo.

Ademo, a prominent Ethiopian journalist who was also in exile, said upon his return that "my exile and longing for home have come to an end. I am glad that it coincided with this defining and pivotal moment of renewal for Ethiopia. I look forward to both the journey and the challenges."

Various popular Ethiopian rebel groups - such as the Patriotic Ginbot 7, Oromo Leberation Front (OLF) and the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) - have also similarly declared ceasefire as the Ethiopia's reform process strengthened over the past couple of months.

The ONLF, a rebel group operating in the Ethiopia's Somali regional state, is the latest to declare a unilateral temporary ceasefire, saying "Emphasizing the urgent need to foster a climate of peace that can assist the ONLF, the Ethiopian government and other stakeholders in resolving the longstanding conflict in the Ethiopia Somali regional state, the ONLF declares a unilateral ceasefire from Sunday."

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