Ethiopia Declares State of Emergency—for Next 6 Months

Due to protests by ethnic groups that say they've been marginalized
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2016 11:03 AM CDT
Ethiopia Declares State of Emergency—for Next 6 Months
Ethiopia's Communication Affairs Minister Getachew Reda speaks to the media about the current unrest in the country in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Monday.   (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

For 25 years, Ethiopia's ruling party hasn't had to call a state of emergency, but it did just that Sunday in response to recent protests against the powers that be, and it's going to be a long one: six months due to the "loss of lives and property damages occurring in the country," the prime minister said, per local media via CNN. The most recent protests started on Oct. 2 after dozens of people died in clashes with government security forces during a holy festival celebrated by the country's Oromo people. But activists say it wasn't just 52 people (the official government tally) who died during that incident, but more than 500, downed by bullets and tear gas from the authorities. Locals also say the government has been blocking the Internet to keep people from communicating and rallying, the Guardian reports.

The nation's communications minister scoffs at the October protest claims, saying none of the deceased had bullet wounds and were killed by stampeding crowds instead. The Oromo and Amhara people have long protested their marginalization, even though together they make up nearly two-thirds of the nation's population, per the BBC. Al Jazeera notes protests started in November, first over land rights, then including political, cultural, and economic issues. Activists say hundreds have been killed and tens of thousands detained. The government says the state of emergency entails, per the AP, some curfews, restrictions or bans on communication and public assembly, and more lenient rules for carrying out arrests. Meanwhile, the government blamed Egypt on Monday for supporting an Oromo rebel group. (A well-known Oromo member: Olympian silver medalist and wrist-raiser Feyisa Lilesa.)

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