Ethiopia declares a state of emergency


A state of emergency has been declared in Ethiopia after TPLF attacked the country and are moving towards the capital. America has expressed concern over this dangerous situation. The Government of Ethiopia declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, 2nd November 2021. The US said the security situation in Ethiopia had become “very bad” and advised its citizens to leave the country. The State-affiliated Fana Broadcasting reported that the state of emergency has been imposed to protect civilians from atrocities committed by the rebels TPLF in several parts of the country. 

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed called upon its citizen to take up arms to defend themselves and the capital against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Abiy said that this announcement comes with the aim of ‘shortening the duration of the conflict and providing time for resolution’. The US has warned Tigre forces, which have recently captured the strategic cities of Dessi and Kombolcha, against any attempt to “encircle” Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. The emergency came into force immediately and will remain in force for six months.

Before the state of emergency was imposed, the city administration in Addis Ababa called on citizens to use their weapons to defend the capital. House-to-house searches were conducted to find those who sympathize with the rebels, a statement said. Officials in Addis Ababa told civilians to be prepared to defend the capital, as fighters from the northern region of the Tigre threatened to approach the city. This rebel organization has captured two major cities of Ethiopia.

In a state media briefing, Justice Minister Gideon Timothewos said, “Our country is facing grave danger to its existence, sovereignty and unity. And we can’t dispel this danger through the usual law enforcement systems and procedures”. He said that anyone violating the emergency would face 3 to 10 years in prison. He emphasised that anyone providing financial, material or moral support to “terrorist groups”.

The Six-month state of emergency empowers the Government to establish roadblocks, disrupt the transport services, impose a curfew, take over in certain areas by the military. The Government can detain anyone suspected of having links with “terrorist” groups without a court warrant, and any citizen can be called to fight who has attained the age of military service.

Ethiopia’s Council of Ministers declared a state of emergency, a clear sign of distress on the part of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government. Thousands of people have died in the last year in the Tigray region. The Government declared a state of emergency, saying the Tigray forces and their allies posed a “serious and imminent threat” to the country’s existence. The Prime Minister tweeted, ‘Everyone will be tested.’

For almost three decades, the TPLF dominated Ethiopian politics but lost its influence when Abiy became Prime Minister in 2018. In February 2018, Ethiopia had imposed a similar emergency for six months at the time of power transfer to Abiy, restricting people’s movements and thousands of people were detained. This lead to years of anti-government protests. Relations with the TPLF soured after they accused him of centralising power at the expense of Ethiopia’s regional states – an accusation Abiy denies.

A year earlier, on 4th November 2020, Abiy launched a military operation in the northern Tigre region, hoping to defeat his political foe, the regional ruling party, the TPLF. But after promising a swift bloodless campaign, Abiy’s forces began to retreat. This was followed by a major defeat for the Ethiopian army in June when it was forced to retreat from Tigre, and several thousand of its soldiers were taken, prisoner. Now the battle is rapidly moving towards the capital Addis Ababa.

In this battle, the TPFL claimed to have captured two major cities of Ethiopia. The TPFL pressed south towards the city and might march on Addis Ababa, about 380 km. Some of TPLF’s men. In some areas, the local administration may be dissolved and military leadership may be established. Unauthorized public gatherings and protesting emergencies are banned. The United Nations expressed extreme concern at these recent developments. It said the “stability of Ethiopia and the wider region is at stake” and called for an immediate ceasefire.

The state of emergency reflected the rapidly changing tide in a metastasizing war that threatens to tear apart Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous country. It also marked another dismal turn in the fortunes of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, whose international reputation has been battered by a war that has led to reports of human rights violations, massacres and famine.

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