Ethiopia declares State of Emergency amid sporadic unrests and ethnic attacks

Ethiopia decreed today a 6 months State of Emergency. The decree came after months of sporadic protests, ethnic attacks and anarchy in the country.

In its session on Friday, the Council of Ministers adopted a piece of legislation to establish a State of Emergency across the country. The political decision was made by the Executive Committee of EPRDF on Thursday morning.

The decree will be effective for six months as of today. The House of Peoples Representatives, which is currently in recess, will have to vote on it within fifteen days, according to the Constitution. The decree would be repealed if not endorsed by two-third majority vote.



The last time a State of Emergency was declared was in October 2016 following months of protests and unrest. It was extended once and lifted in July 2017 after 10 months. A Directive for the Execution of the State of Emergency was issued for the period.

The previous State of Emergency had recieved mixed reviews. Some observers criticized the security forces use of their descretionary powers, others criticized the political leadership’s failure to use the period for urgent reforms.

Officials claim that they are ready to make a better use of the State of Emergency period, speaking to HornAffairs. Unlike last time, the leadership have clearer political directions laid by the EPRDF Executive Committee on December.

The combination of sporadic protests, anarchy and ethnic attacks since mid 2017 undermined administrative structures and business activities. The intensity of clashes with security forces and episodes of ethnic attacks have increased.

In the past three months, the EPRDF Executive Committee meeting was interrupted twice by the killings in Chelenko and ethnic clashes in Daru Labu areas of Oromia. The ANDM meeting was interrupted by unrest and ethnic attacks in Woldia and Kobo cities of Amhara region.

The increasing gravity of the ethnic aspects of the incidents was observed when the administrations of both regions recently made statements explicitly denouncing the incidents.

It is to be seen whether the State of Emergency would be as effective as the previous one in restoring order. Underground groups appear to have expanded their structures since the last State of Emergency, especially in Oromia.

While the State of Emergency might provide a much needed breathing space for the political leadership, it is yet to be seen how prudently they will use it to launch and execute key reform processes.


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