Ethiopia says state of emergency will last six months

FILE PHOTO: Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn gestures during a news conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, October 11, 2016. REUTERS

Ethiopia’s defence minister said on Saturday that the state of emergency imposed on the country will last six months.

“There are still pockets of areas where violence is prevalent. The (ruling EPRDF coalition‘s) council were unanimous in their decision,” Siraj Fegessa told journalists, Reuters reports.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on Thursday submitted his resignation to parliament, also resigning as the chairman of the ruling coalition.

Desalegn’s resignation comes amid persistent political upheavals in the Horn of African country which has been releasing hundreds of political detainees to ease tensions.

Since January, the country has released more than 6,000 prisoners charged with taking part in mass protests and offences against the state.

Ethiopia has been dogged by protests since 2015, sparked initially by land issues which were born out of an urban development plan for the capital Addis Ababa.

The unrest spread in 2015 and 2016 as demonstrations against political restrictions and human rights abuses broke out.

The government previously imposed a state of emergency in October 2016, which was lifted in August 2017. During that time, curfews were in place, there were restrictions on movement and around 29,000 people were detained.

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