The Financial Express

Ethiopia state of emergency to last six months

| Updated: February 19, 2018 17:54:39

Reuters photo used for representational purpose Reuters photo used for representational purpose

The Ethiopian defence minister has said the newly imposed state of emergency will last for six months as authorities seek to tamp down unrest in the Horn of Africa country.

The country’s Council of Ministers declared a state of emergency barely 24 hours after the resignation of the Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

Outbreaks of violence had continued in parts of the country and the government was banning protests, along with the preparation and dissemination of publications “that could incite and sow discord”, Siraj Fegessa told journalists on Saturday.

“The government has previously made several efforts to curtail violence, but lives have continued to be lost, many have been displaced and economic infrastructure has been damaged.”

Further measures would be announced later in the day, he said.

On Thursday, the PM announced his surprise resignation in a televised speech saying he wanted to smooth the way for reforms.

This is the first time in modern Ethiopian history that a sitting prime minister had quit, reports Reuters news agency.

Just a day later, the government imposed the state of emergency. Parliament - where the four-party ruling coalition controls all 547 seats - is expected to ratify it within two weeks.

Ethiopia is East Africa’s biggest and fastest-growing economy and a Western ally in the fight against Islamist militancy.

But rights groups have often criticised the government for clamping down on political opponents and the media.

Since January, Ethiopia has released more than 6,000 prisoners charged with taking part in mass protests and, in some cases, offences against the state. It has also closed down a jail where activists alleged torture took place.

The government previously imposed a state of emergency in October 2016, which was lifted in August 2017.

During that time, curfews were in place, there were restrictions on movement and around 29,000 people were detained.

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