Ethiopia declares state of emergency amid unrest

ANI | Updated: Feb 17, 2018 11:34 IST

Addis Ababa [Ethiopia], Feb 17 (ANI): Ethiopia has declared a state of emergency following the unrest in the restive Oromia and Amhara regional states, after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned on Thursday, according to a state television broadcast.

In a meeting by the Ethiopian Council of Ministers on Friday, the ministers said a martial law would also be enforced effectively from Friday.

However, the duration of the state of the emergency was not disclosed in the broadcast, the Anadolu news agency reported.

The Council of Ministers said the state of emergency would also be instrumental in thwarting ethnic-based conflicts in the country, prevent the destruction of public property and safeguarding the constitutional order, according to the broadcast. The council added it would release more details on Saturday.

Mulatu Gemechu, deputy secretary of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress, said Ethiopia needed a completely new political system after years of unrest.

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.

Desalegn said in a televised address, "I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy."

The announcement came after the Ethiopian Government recently released hundreds of political prisoners, including some prominent opposition members.

For the past few years, Ethiopia has seethed with social unrest. Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands have been imprisoned, including top opposition figures.

Demonstrations first spread across the country in 2015 amid calls for political and economic reforms.

Further, widespread demonstrations had broken out earlier this week by the Oromos, the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia.

Protesters had blocked roads leading out of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital, with rocks and burning tyres, disrupting public transportation in the city. The demonstrations came to an end only after the government agreed to release the political prisoners.

While for some people, Desalegn's resignation comes as a "transformational moment", many see it as a result of an "unprecedented" wave of protests in Ethiopia. (ANI)