For the first time, Ethiopian government has admitted to having political prisoners that it plans to pardon, amidst calls for dialogue and the release of political prisoners by human rights organizations and activists.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn told a press conference the move was necessary to allow national dialogue.
The amnesty will apply to both convicted political prisoners, and those whose court cases are going on.
Welcoming the Mr Hailemariam's announcement Amnesty International said it could signal "the end of an era of bloody repression in Ethiopia" the BBC reported.
The decision comes after several months of anti-government protest. The recent protests in Oromo and Amhara regions brought business and transport networks to a standstill. Hundreds of people died in the protests leading to a 10-month state of emergency from October 2016 to August 2017.
As well as releasing the prisoners, the government said it will close down the Maekelawi detention center and turn it into a museum. According to the premier, a new detention which would comply with international standards will be opened.
No timelines have been given concerning the release of the prisoners. It is, however, hoped that the move will be a new start for Ethiopians.
"A new chapter for human rights will only be possible if all allegations of torture and other ill-treatment are effectively investigated and those responsible brought to justice," Amnesty International added.
Anti-government protests in Ethiopia