19 February 2018

Ethiopia Emergency Rule - Declaration Awaits Endorsement

The six-month measure followed last week's resignation of PM Hailemariam Desalegn.

The surprise resignation of Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on February 16, 2018 appears not to have assuaged rising anger over the country's political situation. "I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy," Hailemariam explained.

Sequel to the resignation, the Council of Ministers on the same day declared a six-month nation-wide state of emergency to stem the rising wave of anti-government protests.

A directive for the implementation of the emergency rule decree is expected to be issued after its approval by the House of Peoples' Representatives, the Ethiopian News Agency cited Defence Minister Siraj Fegesa as saying.

Addressing a press conference, Fegesa said the measure prohibited protests, campaigning for protests and carrying weapons and explosives. Under the state of emergency, anyone violating or leads others to violate the ruling will be arrested.

Similarly, any media can shut down to safeguard the constitution and constitutional order as well as protect the rights of citizens, Siraj Fegesa added. "The recent disturbances which led to the loss of human life and destruction of property made the situation hard to manage under regular law," Siraj said, explaining the necessity of the decree.

The State of emergency declaration will be presented to the House of People's Representatives within 15 days for approval.

According to Ethiopia's Constitution, Parliament should endorse a declaration providing for state of emergency within 15 days; if it is in recess. Hundreds of people have died in three years of unrest. A 10- month state of emergency that ended last year failed to stop the protests.

The government has been under pressure because of continuing street protests. In recent weeks, it released hundreds of prisoners, including opposition politicians, but the protests have shown no sign of ending.

The political demonstrations in Ethiopia began in Oromia in November 2015. Protests later sprung up in the Amhara region. Oromia and Amhara are the homelands of the country's two biggest ethnic groups. Many people in these communities feel they have been marginalised since the current government took power in 1991.

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