State of Emergency Evolves with Time


There is still no set date for the lifting of the state of emergency




The state of emergency could possibly be extended for another term, depending on the results of various government surveys done around the country, according to Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

His disclosure came during the presentation of a half year report to Parliament. The surveys would take into account the “situation on the ground”, as well as the opinions of the community.

“Through studies and surveys, it has become clear that many people would support the extension of the state of emergency for at least one more cycle. Out of the people included in the survey, 82pc were in favour of a full or partial extension of the state of emergency,” said Hailemariam. “However, during the next month, we will study the situation further and present a report to Parliament.”

The Prime Minister’s disclosure was not the only discussion of the state of emergency during the week. In an unexpected move, Siraj Fegessa, minister of Defence and Secretary of the Command Post announced a new directive, under which some the restrictions imposed on civil liberties under the state of emergency would be eased.

According to the newly released directive, the curfews that were imposed near industrial sites and mega projects are no longer in effect. The unrest that led to the declaration of a state of emergency caused widespread damage to factories and farms, as well as to various infrastructures, publicly and privately held machinery, and vehicles. Following the declaration of the state of emergency, a curfew lasting from 6 pm to 6 am the next day was enacted in industrial areas and infrastructures in some areas of the country. The restriction has now been lifted.

Another restriction lifted by the amended directive is the ability of security forces to arrest people without a court order. In addition, security forces can also no longer enter, search, and seize properties without court warrants.

“There is better security now,” explained Siraj. “We feel that the situation can now be controlled through the standard legal and security means.”

Other than the lifted restrictions, the remaining conditions of the state of emergency remain in effect.

However, both officials stopped short of declaring for certain whether the state of emergency would be lifted or extended past the initially reported six-month timeline. The delay in a firm answer stemmed from some lingering security concerns and “isolated attempts” to incite violent protests. The Minister disclosed that surveys carried out by the government show that “majority of the people” polled in favour of a possible extension of the state of emergency.

The Command Post, since the declaration of the state of emergency, has been in charge of the administration of the country’s security. Government representatives speaking over the last few months have mentioned that the state of emergency has met its targets. Negeri Lencho (PhD), minister of Government Communication Affairs office, in a press conference held in January, said that the state of emergency has met its targets since it was announced.

Massive, recurrent and widespread violent protests ignited in Oromia, Amhara and Southern regional states mid-year in 2016, forced the cabinet of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to declare a state of emergency, the first of such measure since the EPRDF took power in 1991.

The Council of Ministers invoked a rare provision in the constitution, Article 93, in response to growing civil unrest across the country, particularly in the Oromia Regional State.

The state of emergency, which was declared on October 9, 2016, followed a period of politically motivated unrest and violence in large swathes of the country.

So far, during the five months of the state of emergency, around 11,000 people have been arrested, and around the same number have been released from custody. Those arrested in connection with the unrest and violence were either taken to court or put through a program of re-education.



By MENNA ASRAT
FORTUNE STAFF WRITER

Published on Mar 18,2017 [ Vol 17 ,No 880]


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