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Ethiopia declared six months long state of emergency

For months decleration of state of emergency was rumored; as it turns out it is true. The question is will it help to address the popular protest or aggravate the crisis?

State of Emergency - Siraj Fergessa - Command Post - Ethiopia
State of Emergency “Command Post ” Secretariat – Siraj Fergessa
Photo – Fana /File

February 16, 2018
Updated on February 16, 2018 at 16:00 EST

Ethiopia has officially declared today a state of emergency for the second time in two years time.

Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation, state media, reported that the council of ministers’ emergency meeting which was called yesterday approved a draft bill to impose a state of emergency.

It is effective as of today and is expected to end in six months time, if there is no need to extend it as was the case for the last time state of emergency was declared.

The report added that the Council of Ministers believed that it has become impossible to maintain law order and defend the constitution with regular law enforcement practice and declaring a state of emergency has become necessary.

It has been weeks, if not months, since rumor about the state of emergency declaration was reported to the public through social media and Ethiopian media outlets based abroad.

The ruling coalition executives held over two weeks of the closed meeting following deepening political crisis in December of 2017 and they decided to release political prisoners. Despite there are still political prisoners behind bars, notable political leaders and journalists whose name have been in the limelight have been released from prison this month.

Yesterday, Prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced that he is resigning and the party has accepted his resignation. However, sources with inside information say he was actually forced out of office. Many Ethiopians think that Hailemariam is a puppet of TPLF.

Will the state of emergency help resolve the crisis?

From the experience of the previous state of emergency which was initially declared for a period of six months and later extended to nearly a year, thousands of citizens could be thrown to jail in addition to arbitrary killing and social media blockade.

Perhaps that is why many political analysts seem to think that the state of emergency could rather exacerbate the political crisis.

Released political leaders like Andualem Arage and Merera Gudina have been calling the government for a national dialogue, which many Ethiopians tend to think as a solution to the existing impasse.

The ruling TPLF government is intending to, some say, buy time through the state of emergency.

There seems to be a consensus among Ethiopians that Ethiopia will never be the same again for TPLF leaders but TPLF seems to shrug that and work on consolidating its power apparently through an aggressive move to strike hard the resistance both from within the ruling coalition and from the popular protest.

In the process, Ethiopia is facing an unprecedented threat to its existence. And TPLF is boldly telling to Ethiopians through its actions that it does not care about Ethiopia if it is to lose power.
Editor’s note: this post was updated on February 16,2018 at 1600 EST to reflect changes regarding the duration of the state of emergency. Earlier no time was indicated as to when it was ending but later it became clear that the Marshal law is imposed for six months only.

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