State of emergency declared in Ethiopia amid political unrest

The Council of ministers is set to declare a state of emergency for three months as of this morning, a source close to the government told Addis Standard.

The development comes after Desalegn announced his resignation, both as Prime Minister and the chairman of the ruling party, the Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front, after he was at the helm since 2012, in a bid to ease political turmoil in the country.

Ethiopia has witnessed waves of anti-government protests over the past few years, stoked by demands for free and fair elections and a more equal distribution of power among the country's ethnic groups. Ethiopia's state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting corporate reported that the US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, discussed current political issues with Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu in NY.

A government statement said the state of emergency, which Siraj said must receive legislative approval within 15 days, was declared to "protect the constitutional order and to protect peace and security". Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands have been imprisoned, including top opposition figures.

He said he wanted to smooth the way for reforms.

Rights advocates have frequently criticised Ethiopia's government for mass arrests and long jail terms handed to political opponents and journalists.

Protesters had blocked roads leading out of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital, with rocks and burning tyres, disrupting public transportation in the city.

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. Dessalegn was elected as a compromise candidate who could balance the interests of various factions within the ruling coalition and maintain the status quo.

  • Jon Douglas