Ethiopia declares state of emergency: government

Ethiopia declares state of emergency: government

By AFP

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn (left) shakes hands with European Union Council President Donald Tusk prior to their meeting at the European Union Council building in Brussels, on June 15, 2016. The country has declared a state of emergency. PHOTO | AFP

Summary

  • In the most recent unrest in Oromia, at least 55 people died when security forces intervened during the annual Ireecha fete — a seasonal festival.
  • In theory, Ethiopia has embraced democracy but hurdles are put in the way of potential rival parties that currently, there are no opposition MPs.

ADDIS ABABA

(nation)–Ethiopia declared a state of emergency on Sunday following months of violent anti-government protests, according to an official statement.

“The state of emergency was declared following a thorough discussion by the Council of Ministers on the loss of lives and property damages occurring in the country,” Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said.

Ethiopia, for past five years, has been hit by protests. In the most recent unrest in Oromia, at least 55 people died when security forces intervened during the annual Ireecha fete — a seasonal festival.

Oromo protests have continued long after plans to expand capital Addis Ababa’s boundaries were abandoned early in the year.

In particular, Amhara and Oromo opposition has coalesced, both adopting the latest symbol — arms raised and wrists crossed as if handcuffed.

Read: Protests a serious scare to Ethiopia PM

The picture of Olympic silver medallist Feyisa Lilesa making this gesture while crossing the finish line at Rio 2016 went viral, and photos from Ireecha celebrations in Bishoftu show the crowd standing with arms crossed above their heads before police intervention triggered the deadly panic.

The ruling Ethiopia People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front has achievements to show for its 25 years in power in terms of economic development and improved health and education.

What it has not done is manage the transition from being a centralised, secretive revolutionary movement to running a more open government.

In theory, Ethiopia has embraced democracy but hurdles are put in the way of potential rival parties that currently, there are no opposition MPs.

EPRDF has in theory devolved a good deal of power, but regional leaders are changed by the government time and again.


Eritrea’s Isaias Afwerki makes surprise visit to Ethiopia

Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki (left) and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed talk during the inauguration of the Tibebe Ghion Specialized Hospital in Bahir Dar, northern Ethiopia, on November 10, 2018. PHOTO | FILE | AFP

Summary

  • Move effectively ends rumours that have been circulating for weeks in Ethiopia and overseas over his health.
  • He is said to have disappeared from public view for over two weeks.

By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE

(nation)–Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki on Sunday made an unexpected visit to Ethiopia, ending curiosity and wild speculation over the whereabouts of the reclusive long-time leader.

Upon arrival at Bole International Airport, President Afwerki — accompanied by Foreign Minister Osman Saleh and Presidential Advisor Yemane Ghebreab — was received by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

The leaders subsequently discussed bilateral ties and regional concerns of common interest.

Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde hosted a luncheon for the visiting Eritrean leader and his delegation. The event was held at a public park in the capital Addis Ababa.

“It was a renewed pleasure to join our PM Abiy Ahmed Ali in welcoming President Isaias Afwerki who is on a two-day visit to Ethiopia. We hosted him in the stunning park coming up on Entoto Mountain, a truly amazing place to relax and unwind,” said president Zewde in a tweet.

The two leaders also inaugurated an irrigation project located outside the capital in Oromia regional state.

DEATH RUMORS

The Eritrean president’s surprise visit to Ethiopia comes amid wild rumours that have been circulating for weeks in Ethiopia and overseas among diaspora communities regarding the state of his health.

A number of political analysts and exiled Eritrean opposition had speculated on the whereabouts of the leader after he disappeared from public view for over two weeks in the wake of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Isaias has reportedly returned home from recent medical treatment in Saudi Arabia.

“After the latest bout of intensified rumours, President Isaias may have wanted to make a strong statement that not only was he in good health, but that he still maintains positive relations with Abiy and was still active in regional diplomacy,” William Davison, International Crisis Group (ICG) senior analyst for Ethiopia told the Nation.

At a time when world leaders are choosing to hold meetings virtually, such as via video or telephone, Mr Afwerki’s decision to meet PM Abiy in person raised eyebrows.