Ethiopia PM Hailemariam Desalegn ‘open to criticism’

Ethiopia’s prime minister has told the BBC he is not afraid of criticism from journalists, despite the country’s reputation for stifling free speech.

“Free media is very essential for the democratic process and… development,” Hailemariam Desalegn said.
He insisted some bloggers and reporters arrested last year were not real journalists and had terror links.
Charges of terrorism have been dropped against all of the so-called Zone 9 bloggers.

Five were freed in July after more than a year in jail ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit; the other four were acquitted of terrorism charges by a court last month.

The Zone 9 website had carried pieces critical of the government.

‘We are not perfect’

But Mr Hailemariam said that their profession had not prompted their arrests, rather evidence linking them to groups wanting to destabilise the government.

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