A senior Ethiopian official says the country has opened access to 264 blocked websites and TV broadcasters.
Fitsum Arega, who is the prime minister’s chief of staff, tweeted that “freedom of expression is a foundational right” and “essential for engaged and responsible” citizens. He added that “only a free market of ideas will lead to the truth”.
Freedom of expression is a foundational right that other rights depend on. #Ethiopia has opened access to 264 blocked websites/bloggers/ ESAT and OMN. A free flow of information is essential for engaged & responsible citizenry. Only a free market of ideas will lead to the truth.
— Fitsum Arega (@fitsumaregaa) June 22, 2018
Among the broadcasters allowed back on air are the US-based Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) and Oromo Media Network (OMN).
Both TV stations were charged in absentia for inciting violence and promoting terror, but the charges were dropped a few weeks ago.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in April with a pledge to open up the airwaves, even calling on foreign-based opposition TV broadcasters to open offices in Ethiopia.
One broadcaster – the US-based OMN station – has sent a team to establish an office in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia has been accused of blocking foreign-based TV and radio broadcasts, websites and blogposts from being accessed in the country for many years by different human rights and press freedom groups.