Several nations are calling into question the Ethiopian government’s decision to enact a six-month state of emergency in the midst of continued major national protests and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced resignation. Desalegn says he'll stay on until a new PM is named.
"We are concerned about recent domestic developments in Ethiopia. The institution of martial law allows for massive restrictions on civil rights, we hope the government will be extremely cautious in exercising its powers," the German Foreign Office said today regarding the governmental decision.
The European Union Ambassador Johan Borgstam said the state of emergency will erode the possibility of dialogue between the ruling coalition - People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (PRD) - and the opposition parties, Oromo Peoples' Democratic Organization (OPDO) and Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM).
The governments of the United States, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom are worried that the state of emergency, which prohibits protests and strike, will lead to a violent and unjust crackdown on protesters.
During the country’s previous state of emergency, which lasted 10 months and was only lifted in August 2017, security forces killed at least 500 demonstrators and imprisoned up to 29,000 demonstrators, the last 7,000 of whom were only freed in January.
Political tensions and human rights abuses in Ethiopia were already rising since Hailemariam Desalegn took office in 2012, but protests were sparked in late 2015 with a construction in Addis Abada. The Oromos and Amharas - two ethnic groups that constitute about 65 percent of the population - began then to protest for increased political inclusion and an end to human rights abuses against their people. Their political parties, the OPDO and ANDM, make up a small portion of national elected officials.
The ruling PRD coalition meanwhile, which holds 547 parliamentary seats, only represents between six and ten percent of the population, mainly the elite classes of the country, according to Al Jazeera.
Opposition parties are calling for the state of emergency, which still needs to pass parliament, to be immediately revoked. They say it will allow the PRD to further violate human rights and freedom of expression with impunity.
The Ethiopian foreign minister, Workneh Gebeyehu, tells the press there are no security concerns within the country.