As expected the Ethiopian government has extended the state of emergency by four months. The Ethiopian Parliament on Friday held a “special meeting” to “discuss” the extension. Based on reports from local sources, only two parliamentarians opposed the extension and there were three abstains.
A day before the parliamentary meeting, the Ethiopian government arrested Dessalegn Chane, an opposition politician from the Amara region of Ethiopia who is perhaps the only parliamentarian who told the Ethiopian PM to step down because of his inability to steer the country towards peace and security. He was arrested before his parliamentary immunity was lifted.
Why State of emergency get extended
In August 2023, Abiy Ahmed’s government imposed it on the Amhara region on alleged grounds of danger to the “constitutional order” and threat to the Amhara regional state. Then the government announced plans to disarm Fano combatants within a few weeks and restore peace and security in the region.
Six months after the state of emergency, the government ( Federal and regional) was unable to disarm Fano. Multiple local reports from Ethiopia indicate that Fano forces are more armed than they were before the state of emergency was imposed. Thousands of government soldiers are reportedly killed. Although the Ethiopian government did not confirm the number of soldiers lost in the military operation, or rather a full-fledged war, in the Amhara region, Defense Chief of Staff Field Marshal Berhanu Jula confirmed during an interview in December 2023 that “sacrifice is paid.” He justified his force’s extensive use of drone attacks by pointing out that an infantry battle with AK 47 was not viable in the region – perhaps something that confirms the significant loss of his forces in the region.
The Federal government and Amhara regional state have repeatedly made claims that peace and normalcy are restored in many parts of the Amhara region which does not seem to be the case. Reports from local sources confirm that most of the region is under the control of Fano. The extension of the state of emergency itself seems to suggest that the government is not still in a position to enforce law and order through regular law enforcement forces – police in the region. If that is not the case, it begs the question of why the government continues to impose internet blackouts in the region while intensifying egregious rights abuse in the region; the latest was observed in Merawi – this past Monday – where over a hundred civilians were executed by government forces to retaliate Fano military action in the town. Some sources say the number of people killed is 50.
Gedion Timotheos, Minister for Justice, was asked in the parliament why the state of emergency needs to be extended. “There are remaining works, security threats, and tendencies in other parts of the country,” the Minister said. it appears that parliamentarians never asked a follow-up question as to what the remaining work is and why it takes four months. There are indications that the Federal government is indulging in controversy with the regional administration in Tigray over the implementation of the Pretoria agreement.
The Ethiopian government believes, as stated by the Minister for Justice, that the state of emergency “protected the Amhara region and constitutional order in the country. Resumption of flights to the region is also credited to the State of Emergency. Reports from the Amara region indicate that the economy in the region is devastated. The region planned to collect over 70 billion birr in tax in the first half of the fiscal year. What is actually collected is not even ten percent.
There have been voices, including the former president of the Amhara region and security advisor to Abiy Ahmed Gedu Andargachew, that the problem in the Amhara region could only be resolved through a political dialogue, and that there is no military solution to it. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed does to seem to buy that.
(video embedded from FBC -State media)
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