Ethiopia begins six-month state of emergency

Feb 17, 2018, 00:12
Ethiopia begins six-month state of emergency

A total structural change in this country if we have to continue as a nation, " he said.

Hundreds have died as the military cracked down on protesters while scores have been detained since 2016.

(OPride) - In a shocking televised statement on Thursday, Ethiopia's Hailemariam Desalegn announced stepping down as the country's Prime Minister and chairperson of the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

"The main reason I have submitted my resignation is because I hold the firm belief that it was necessary for me to tender it as part of a solution aimed at ensuring lasting peace and guaranteeing democracy in our country going forward".

Over 6,000 political prisoners have been freed since January as the government struggled to placate discontent.

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Earlier this week, young men wielding sticks and stones blocked roads leading out of the capital Addis Ababa and businesses shut in Oromia. Businesses throughout the vast Oromo region were shuttered as part of a strike.

Ethiopia has faced unrest since 2015 after the arrest of students and opposition figures in the Oromia region who were demonstrating against unfair treatment and abuses by the EPRDF government.

Mr Hailemariam's surprise resignation comes amid the worst anti-government protests in 25 years.

"Things were deteriorating", he said, adding that many had expected a new prime minister to be named at the next congress of the ruling coalition, scheduled for this summer.

The prime minister had pushed for even more releases, said a regional analyst familiar with Ethiopian politics.

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"In an effort to address the challenges now facing the country in light of the public's legitimate demands for development, democracy and good governance, the EPRDF and the government have commenced a number of reforms. At the same time, people need to demonstrate their commitment to peaceful expression and dialogue".

Hailemariam, who succeeded former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi upon his death in 2012, attempted to address perceived ethnic imbalances in his government by appointing members of the Oromo and Amhara communities as deputy premiers alongside a Tigrayan. The country saw a decade of double-digit growth, based largely on state investment in infrastructure.

Nearly 700 people have been killed in the violence since August 2016, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission said past year.

Ethiopia follows a parliamentary system.

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