Are Ethiopia’s new leaders promising new freedoms?

A spokesman for Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said he “could not remember” if he ever said that he would bury a former enemy. On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that Ahmed made…

Are Ethiopia's new leaders promising new freedoms?

A spokesman for Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said he “could not remember” if he ever said that he would bury a former enemy.

On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that Ahmed made the comment to a crowd in the port city of Mombasa, where he is visiting. The report said the promise would be made to leade Mursaleh Ali Ahmed, who in 2004 and 2005 was driven out of the country for his role in an anti-government uprising.

Ahmed survived an assassination attempt in 2015 and officially renounced violence in September 2016.

Sa’ad Birhanu, the chief spokesperson for Abiy, declined to confirm the report in a statement, saying it did not apply to the recent comments.

“If that was true, the prime minister would surely have already done so,” Birhanu said.

The Times report comes at a time of great significance for Abiy, who came to power in April, replacing the man he replaced. Abiy returned to Ethiopia on Saturday from a trip to the United States and was expected to address the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.

By Dylan Martinez and Vladimir Isachenkov, CNN

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