Over 110 Somali prisonsers freed by neighbouring Ethiopia based on a diplomatic arrangement arrived in Mogadishu on Saturday.
Somali Prime Minister, Hassan Ali Khaire, announced earlier this month that Ethiopia had accepted to hand over some 120 Somalis held in its detention facilities.
He tweeted the news in Somali, a translation of which read: ‘‘Ethiopia agreed to hand over 120 Somali prisoners in the framework of an agreement we reached.’‘ He was at the time in Ethiopia attending the 29th African Union Heads of State summit.
No details were released on when the agreement was reached and what conditions were attached. Reports in local media at the time indicated that the prisoners were to fly back to Mogadishu with the PM but that did not happen until now.
They further report that Somalis have been held in Ethiopian jails without trial with a number of them dieing in detention. It also remains to be known whether the prisoners had served their full sentences.
A journalist with the Voice of America (VOA), Harun Maruf, said the prisoners were ‘‘reportedly charged and held for various offences including “illegal” entry.’‘
Ethiopia is seen as a major player – politically, economically and security-wise in the Horn of Africa region. Aside Eritrea, with who they have a long drawn border dispute, Addis Ababa is on good terms with all its other neighbours.
Ethiopia is actively engaged in the fight against Somalia’s insurgent group, Al-Shabaab. They contribute to the Africa Union mission (AMISOM) and also deploy troops independently to combat the insurgents.