Ethiopia’s government says it will free several prominent opposition figures as the country marks Orthodox Christmas.
Speaking on Friday, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said the government was making the move in a bid to achieve national reconciliation and to promote “unity”.
Leaders of the rebel Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) will be among those pardoned in the amnesty.
Government forces have been fighting the rebels for over a year in a war that has claimed thousands of lives.
The surprise pardon comes amid a lull in the 15-month long conflict, which has recently seen government forces retake the initiative and capture several rebel-held towns.
Announcing the new amnesty, the government communications service said in a statement that the “key to lasting unity is dialogue. Ethiopia will make any sacrifices to this end”.