'No Ethiopia military takeover' despite state of emergency

Pauline Gross
February 18, 2018

The state of emergency will be presented for lawmakers' approval within 15 days, Siraj said.

The last state of emergency in 2016, which lasted for nine months, came after months of deadly protests in Oromia and the neighboring Amhara region.Some 29,000 people were detained under the decree, while rights groups claimed people were beaten and subjected to arbitrary detentions.

"The state of emergency will be for 6 months and will be approved by parliament", state-run Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) wrote on Facebook, quoting Defense Minister Siraj Fegessa.

The declaration would allow Ethiopian security forces to crack down on demonstrations, ban some publications from distributing material "that could incite and sow discord" and establish a special court for people who break those rules.

Mulatu Gemechu, deputy secretary of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress, spoke a day after the surprise resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who said he was leaving office to smooth reforms. "The state of emergency is effective as of today".

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Similar protests have taken place across Ethiopia since late 2015, leading the government to declare a state of emergency in October 2016 after hundreds of people were reportedly killed. In a bid to ease tensions, the government last month began issuing a string of pardons and prisoner releases, after Hailemariam said jailed "politicians" would be released "to improve the national consensus and widen the democratic platform".

The state of emergency, the embassy said, "undermines recent positive steps toward creating a more inclusive political space" and sends a message to the Ethiopian people that "they are not being heard".

Riots and protests have picked up again in Ethiopia since the end of the previous 10-month state of emergency, according to data compiled by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.

The US embassy in Addis Ababa on Saturday said it "strongly" disagrees with "restrictions on fundamental rights such as assembly and expression". The warning is for its personnel to suspend all travels outside of the capital as a precautionary measure.

Other reports by GizPress

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