Sun, Feb 18, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Ethiopia declares state of emergency after PM resigns

TURMOIL:An anchor at the state broadcaster announced the decree, saying it was prompted by chaos and unruliness that threaten the constitution

AFP, ADDIS ABABA

Ethiopia on Friday declared a state of emergency, capping a tumultuous week that saw the prime minister resign, a strike in the nation’s largest region and a massive prisoner amnesty

Citing a decision by the council of ministers, the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corp said: “A state of emergency has been declared as of now.”

It gave no timeline for the emergency decree, the second since 2016, which was announced in a statement read by an anchor on the state broadcaster.

The communique eluded to “ethnic-based clashes” and “chaos and unruliness” as justification for the move.

“In some parts of the country, the constitution and the constitutional system has been bypassed,” it said.

“To be able to protect the constitutional system, declaring a state of emergency has become necessary,” it added.

Ethiopia last declared a state of emergency in October 2016 after months of protests in Oromia — home to the nation’s largest ethnicity, the Oromos — and neighboring Amhara region.

The 10-month decree succeeded in quelling the unrest, which killed hundreds and resulted in tens of thousands of arrests, despite criticism from rights groups.

However, anti-government sentiment remained in the two regions and protests continued to erupt sporadically.

The government was further pressured when clashes erupted late last year between the Oromo and Somali ethnicities that would go on to kill hundreds and, according to a UN estimate, displace 1 million people.

Last month, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced that the government would begin releasing some jailed “politicians” to “improve the national consensus and widen the democratic platform.”

Tensions boiled over earlier this week when businesses closed and young men armed with rocks and sticks blocked roads in Oromia in a two-day strike to push the government to keep its prisoner amnesty promise.

The strike was called off after detained Oromo politicians were freed, along with hundreds of other prisoners.

The next day, Hailemariam unexpectedly announced he was stepping down, becoming the first leader in modern Ethiopia to do so.

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