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Ethiopia releasing 9,800 detained under state of emergency

Ethiopian authorities have said they will release nearly 10,000 people who were detained under the country's ongoing state of emergency.

The government also plans to charge around 2,500 others accused of destabilising the country.

Deputy government spokesman Zadig Abraha said 9,800 people are being freed, adding: "They have been given lots of training ... so that they won't be part of the destructive trend that we have seen in the past."

The East African country declared the state of emergency in October after nearly a year of anti-government protests which human rights groups say left hundreds dead.

It was some of the country's worst violence since Ethiopia's ruling party came to power in 1991. Rights groups have accused the government of using excessive force.

Most of the detainees are from the restive Oromia and Amhara regions. The government said that under the state of emergency, people detained could be sent to rehabilitation centres without charges.

Mr Zadig said Ethiopia has seen a "tremendous change in the peace and security" under the state of emergency, which is expected to end in April.

The government has already lifted a ban on diplomats travelling more than 24 miles outside the capital, Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia, one of Africa's best-performing economies and a close security ally of the United States, was hit by a wave of protests beginning in November 2015 when ethnic Oromos protested against proposed land seizures to add to Addis Ababa city.

Protesters said the plan was aimed at expanding the capital's administrative control into Oromia.

The violence then spread to the Amhara region in the country's north and beyond, with people calling on the government to end arbitrary arrests, respect regional autonomy and respect rights enshrined in the constitution.

AP

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