Ethiopia Declares State of Emergency Amidst Ethnic Protests

by on October 10, 2016

Ethiopia has declared a state of emergen­cy following months of anti-government protests by members of the country’s two largest ethnic groups.

The Oromo and the Am­hara make up about 60% of the population. They com­plain power is held by a tiny Tigrean elite.

Violence has intensified since last Sunday when at least 55 people were killed in clashes between police and protesters at an Oromo festival.

Hundreds have died in months of protests, human rights groups say.

Tens of thousands have also been detained, they say.

Declaring the state of emergency, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam De­salegn said in a televised ad­dress: “We put our citizens’ safety first. Besides, we want to put an end to the dam­age that is being carried out against infrastructure pro­jects, education institutions, health centres, administra­tion and justice buildings.”

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The state of emergency will last for six months.

BBC World Service Afri­ca editor Mary Harper says the violent protests are the most serious threat to Ethi­opian stability in a quarter of a century.

The protesters have been attacking foreign companies, she says, threatening Ethio­pia’s reputation as a growing economy, ripe for interna­tional investment.

The details of the state of emergency remain unclear, but she adds that protesters have already shown they will not back down when faced with force.

Many roads into and out of the capital, Addis Ababa, are blocked by protesters.

The protests are for man­ifold reason, and include: Muslims unhappy at the imposition of government-approved leaders; Farm­ers displaced to make way for commercial agricul­ture; Amharic communi­ties opposed to their inclu­sion in Tigre rather than the Amhara region and discon­tent among groups in vari­ous parts of the vast Oromia region.

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