State of emergency restrictions seem to target government bodies as well

The state of emergency is poised to impose curfew and restriction on freedom of Assembly. But the restriction on freedom of expression seem to target regional media outlets as well

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

borkena
February 21,2018

The government disclosed today restricted rights under the state of emergency which was declared last Friday after prime minister Hailemariam Desalgn announced that he has submitted an application to resign from government and party responsibility.

“Command Post,” a body that would preside over the SOE, will have eight zones across the country, according to Siraj Fergessa who is Minister of Defense and secretary of the former.

The “Command Post” mainly constitutes high ranking military officers who are known to be ardent TPLF members.

Apart from imposing restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly, among other things, on the general public, the state of emergency seems to target regional states communication heads; the guideline clearly states that no other body could issues statement regarding security situation without authorization from the “Command Post.”

Communication heads from Amhara and Oromo regional states have been sharing updates on social media whenever security issues in their respective regions.

Regional media outlets are, seemingly, targeted as well but the wording is framed in a way that sounds different; “dissiminating wrong information regarding proclamations and regulations.”

Last month, Zeray Asgedom, who is head of Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority, and presumed to be a TPLF memeber, critized government media in Amhara regional state and Oromo regional state on grounds that they are reporting developing events “wrongly.”

Media outlets in those regions have become far more critical and gained a considerably high number of audience compared to Ethiopian state media, Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC), within a short time and sometimes they air critical views from guests they invite for discussions, among other things.

Theoretically, the SOF emergency is supposed to be approved by the parliament, which is in recess now, before its implementation but it is already in effect since it was declared last week. However, there have been protests in many parts of Ethiopia except in Tigray region, the political base of TPLF.

The United State embassy in Addis Ababa, the European Union, and the UK condemned the EOE and rather advised the government to have a dialogue with stakeholders.

Opposition groups in the country have also criticized it and rather called on for the formation of a transitional government, which government rejected outrightly calming that the government is elected by the people (and there is no single opposition voice in the parliament).

There are unconfirmed reports that Oromo regional state opposed the move to place most parts of the region under the “Command Post” for the next six months which could be extended by four months, as was the case with the one declared in 2016.

While the government is giving lip service to the idea of peaceful transition, there is a concern in the opposition quarter and among political analysts that the state of emergency could actually have undesirable consequence by leading the country to more chaos thereby complicating further security situation and political crisis in the country.



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