Ethiopia declares state of emergency amid unrest

Ethiopia had seen sporadic, often deadly protests since late 2015 and temporarily enacted a state of emergency due to the unrest that was mainly in the central Oromia region.

The United States embassy in Ethiopia said on Saturday it disagreed with the government's decision to impose a state of emergency to calm political unrest the day after the prime minister's surprise resignation.

Tigrayan officials dismiss claims of unbridled control over the ruling coalition, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), but acknowledge the necessity to widen the political space. However, "the state of emergency will be declared this morning as the security situation in the country is getting volatile", said the source.

However, Jawar Mohammed, an Oromo rights activist and head of the Oromia Media Network, said the state of emergency declaration was "unnecessary, unhelpful and unwise".

Siraj Fegessa also ruled out a transitional government. "The state of emergency was tested a year ago".


The US embassy statement said that "the challenges facing Ethiopia, whether to democratic reform, economic growth, or lasting stability, are best addressed through inclusive discourse and political processes, rather than through the imposition of restrictions".

In an effort to ease tensions, the government this week released more than 700 prisoners arrested during the protests and a previous state of emergency.

The strike was called off after detained Oromo politicians were freed along with hundreds of other prisoners, including journalist Eskinder Nega and opposition leader Andualem Arage.

The Africa's second most populous nation had witnessed a ten-month state of emergency since October 2016, following the Ethiopian parliament's decision to extend the initial six-month period by four months. Dessalegn was elected as a compromise candidate who could balance the interests of various factions within the ruling coalition and maintain the status quo.


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