After years in exile, an Ethiopian politician returns home with hope and fear

ECADF | ADDIS ABABA, Nov 7 (Reuters) – A year ago, rebel leader Berhanu Nega was coordinating attacks against Ethiopian soldiers from his base across the border in Eritrea and faced a death penalty at home.

In September, he returned to Ethiopia to address tens of thousands of cheering supporters in a stadium in the capital, Addis Ababa.

The journey of the mild-mannered former economics professor from exile to rock-star welcome says a lot about how much Ethiopia has changed in recent months. He is the most high profile of dozens of political dissidents, former rebels, and secessionist leaders who have come home since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in April. Their return has Ethiopians hopeful that the country of 105 million – Africa’s second most populous – can finally embrace democracy.