Ethiopia to lift state of emergency

by Engidu Woldie
ESAT News (June 2, 2018)

The cabinet of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, also known as the Council of Ministers, has announced today that a state of emergency imposed in February would be lifted.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed

The news comes in the form of a tweet by Fitsum Arega, the Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister, who wrote that the Council, after assessing the security situation in the country, has “noted that law & order has been restored.”

“The Council of Ministers in its today’s regular meeting reviewed the security situation of the country. It noted that law & order has been restored. It has approved a draft law that lifts the State of Emergency. The draft will be sent to Parliament for its consideration,” Arega tweeted.

Ethiopia imposed a state of emergency in February, the second martial law in two years, after a nationwide and deady anti government protest in which security forces killed hundreds of protesters and tens of thousand detained.

The current state of emergency was declared on February 16, a day after the former Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn abruptly resigned and way before the new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, was appointed – putting into question the legitimacy of the decree.

Abiy Ahmed, appointed on April 2, 2018, is viewed as a change agent by many Ethiopians. Under his watch, thousands of political prisoners have been freed. Ahmed’s call for reconciliation and unity, in a country where ethically aligned political tension is high, resonate among the majority seeking change in the country. But his critics say he belongs to a regime that put the country in a political quagmire in the first place.

Ethiopia’s parliament is expected to act on the draft law sent to it by the Council of Ministers, officially lifting the martial law.

On Wednesday, the ruling EPRDF and opposition political parties began talks to amend the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation. The regime used the law’s broad interpretations to muzzle the press and stifle dissent. A number of journalists and opposition political figures have been thrown to jail allegedly for trespassing the law.