Protestors in Nekemt demanded an end to TPLF government
February 26, 2018
As the state of emergency (SoE) which was decreed a day after Hailemariam Desalegn’s resignation enters its eleventh day today, residents of Nekemte took to the street en masse to oppose government’s move to restrict freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.
No details are available so far regarding casualty so far. However, an intense gunshot is heard in un Unverified video footage shared on social media.
Protestors demanded the withdrawal of federal security forces from the region and chanted “Down, down Woyane”, “Down, down TPLF” which is a call for an end to the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front Government, as many Ethiopians in the opposition call it.
Pictures shared on social media from citizen activists show roads closed with big rocks and tire burning.
A reception program for released Oromo Federalist Congress leaders including Merera Gudina was organized in the city’s stadium. However, it was canceled after federal security forces detained Merera Gudina and his colleagues in Gute town, just twenty kilometers outside of Nekemete. The opposition leaders were forced to return to the capital Addis Ababa.
The Nekemte protest today seem to be triggered by government action over the weekend, according to local media sources who claim to have insider information.
Last week, there was protest a protest in Wolkite town, south-west of Addis Ababa, and federal security forces were deployed to quell it down.
Over the weekend, fans of Bahir Dar City and Dessie city soccer teams chanted anti-government slogans specifically targeting TPLF.
SoE banned freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, among other things. Activists and politicians alike were warning the government that SoE would rather accentuate the crisis in the country.
One of the protestant churches in Ethiopia,Mekane Eyesus, issued a statement over the weekend calling for the government to repeal the SoE decree.
Last week, the United States embassy in Addis Ababa issued a statement to express “strong” disagreement with the SoE. The European Union on its part advised to make the SoE brief and focus on dialogue with stakeholders.
Theoretically, the SoE was supposed to be approved by the parliament before its implementation. However, the government has bypassed that part of the procedure claiming that it is unable to maintain order and “rule of law” through the regular law enforcement procedures. Today, the government has called the parliament,which is in recess for one month, for an emergency meeting.
For the opposition, SoE is meant to rescue crumbling TPLF power which has lost legitmacy long time ago.
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