Ethiopian government decreed a state of emergency on Sunday.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced the decree on Sunday at noon on the state-owned tv.

The decree followed the deadly week of protests across Oromia and in some parts of the Southern Nation, Nationalities, Peoples region.

Fragile calm had been observed in the past two months after months of protests and violence in many parts of Oromia and western parts of Amhara region.

Mayhem broke out across Oromia this week following a deadly stampede during the annual Irreecha festivity last Sunday. Activists blamed security forces for causing the stampede that left at least 55 people dead.

Protests and clash with the police took place in one fifth of the districts of Oromia in the week, including a breakdown of order in west Arsi and attacks on 50 factories and enterprises near the capital. The government shut down internet access in the capital by mid-week.

State of Emergency

The decree established a Command Post chaired by the Prime Minister, who will determine the members of the body.

The Command Post is authorized to determine the areas of the country where restrictions on individual rights.

The decree, which is reportedly approved by the Cabinet on Saturday, listed the types of restrictions that could be announced by the Command Post:-

* To prohibit any overt and covert incitements for disorder or ethnic conflict, in whatever form of expression;

* To shut down or discontinue any mass media;

* To prohibit assembly, organization, demonstration and “group activities”;

* To detain anyone and to re-educate or bring to court or to keep the person in custody until the end of the emergency period;

* To search and seize any person or place and to use those as evidence in court or confiscate where necessary;

* To declare curfew;

* To block any road or public place or to evacuate and move people from certain places;

* To prohibit possession of arms and combustible materials in particular areas;

* To restore governmental structures in areas where administrative organs collapsed, in cooperation with regional governments and the public;

* To prohibit any government or private owned firm from staging strikes;

* To use proportionate, force necessary for the implementation of the state of emergency decree.

Notice that, these restrictions are not in place yet. The Command Post have yet to announce which restrictions will apply where and when.

The decree prevails over all other substantive and procedural laws, except the Vienna Convention on diplomatic privileges. Failure to comply with the decree is punishable up to five years imprisonment.


Daniel Berhane

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