Ethiopia releases 121 of 355 nabbed over links to coup

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‘We received floods of tips on attempted coup,’ says Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia–Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said Thursday his government released 121 of 355 people arrested on suspicion of links to a coup attempt in June in the Amhara regional government.

Ahmed made the announcement during a wide-ranging news conference at his office.

Brig. Gen. Asaminew Tsige, who was the chief of the Amhara regional state security bureau, is accused of being the mastermind of the June 22 attempted putsch that resulted in the killing of four high-profile regional officials and two high-ranking generals.

Ahmed rejected criticism that moves after the coup attempt amounted to a witch hunt and an effort at stifling dissent.

He said his government opened up the political space, invited previously armed dissent into the national political landscape, and released prisoners and relaxed laws deemed stifling.

“The June 22 phenomenon was dangerous and that might have resulted in instability in the country as a whole,” he said. “It was perilous if it was not put under control,” and added that his government pursued more wisdom in handling the situation.

“We received floods of tips as to the attempted coup but we made only fewer arrests than we should have in Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar,” he said, referring to the capital of Amhara regional state in northwestern Ethiopia.

The investigation into the coup attempt continues, he said.

Turning to the security situation in the previously troubled Western Oromia, he said there has been improvement and there was relative stability in the area that saw repeated insurgency since he came to power in April 2018.

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