Opposition Averse to Extension of Emergency Decree

The law will take effect at the beginning of April

The government’s decision to extend the state of emergency for another four months makes “no sense” according to opposition leaders. The government cited some “worrisome” situations with some regional states, as well as a need to arrest remaining people who were allegedly involved in the violent unrest of last year.

“The logic given for the extension of the law doesn’t make sense,” said Beyene Petros (Prof.), former member of parliament and current chairman of one of the opposition political parties, the Ethiopian Federal Democratic Forum (Medrek).

Parliament approved the extension, which came in the form of a proclamation dubbed “State of Emergency Proclamation for the Maintenance of Public Peace and Security Renewal” on Thursday, March 30, 2017. The vote was unanimous

“To solve the violence mentioned at the borders of regional states, the law should only continue at those specific locations, not at a national level,” Beyene added. “But this act of continuing the law will force the people to stay under fear and insecurity.”

While presenting an explanation to Parliament regarding the tabled proclamation, Siraj Fegessa, minister of Defense and secretary of the Command Post, claimed that even if public violence is currently under control, the extension of the emergency law is essential to maintain the peace and stability that had been gained after the declaration of the state of emergency.

The law will take effect at the beginning of April, the end of the original six months of the state of emergency. It will maintain the regulations and directives issued to enforce the state of emergency proclamation. The measures and decisions taken by the Command Post and decisions that are given by judicial bodies will continue to be applicable, according to the new proclamation.

When the state of emergency was declared in October 2016, it incorporated various bans, including on communicating with those classified as terrorists on social media, carrying firearms outside of Addis, watching broadcast media that were labeled as supportive of terrorist views, protests and gatherings, making political gestures, curfews around industrial zone and mega projects, and travel restrictions on diplomats.

The original state of emergency decree was made subsequent to violent public protests in the Amhara and Oromia regional states over the last two years, which caused loss of lives and damage to property. Since its declaration, the state of emergency has been amended twice.

The most recent amendments include lifting the curfews imposed near industrial sites and mega projects, restricting the Command Post from carrying out arrests of suspects without having court warrants and lifting the travel restriction set on diplomats and foreigners.

Before announcing the decision to extend the state of emergency, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who is also Chairman of the Command Post, alluded to an extension of the decree.

“We have found through studies and surveys that 82pc of people are in favour of extending the state of emergency for at least one more cycle,” mentioned the Prime Minister during his parliamentary address two weeks ago.

The Command Post reported that it arrested 26,130 people suspected of being involved in violence, since the declaration of the state of emergency five and a half months ago. Out of that number, 4,996 of them were charged for allegedly being part of the violence.

“The people we approached regarding the continuation of the state of emergency, responded that it should continue. They also mentioned that it is the population that need to approve the lifting of the state of emergency,” said Tadesse Hordofa, head of the Inquiry Board of the Command Post, speaking to the Parliament. “The people also said that only the properties have been restored. The viewpoints which led to the unrest in the first place have not been fixed.”




Published on Apr 01,2017 [ Vol 17 ,No 882]



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