ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — The Ethiopian government has declared a state of emergency effective immediately following a week of anti-government violence that resulted in deaths and property damage across the country, especially in the restive Oromia region.
In a televised address on Sunday morning, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said the state of emergency was declared because there has been “enormous” damage to property.
“We put our citizens’ safety first. Besides, we want to put an end to the damage that is being carried out against infrastructure projects, education institutions, health centers, administration and justice buildings,” said Desalegn on the state Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation.
“The state of emergency will not breach basic human rights enshrined under the Ethiopian constitution and won’t also affect diplomatic rights listed under the Vienna Convention,” said Desalegn.
The internet is blocked across many parts of Ethiopia, residents reported Sunday. The government has blocked the internet for more than a week to prevent protesters from using social media to get supporters to attend demonstrations.
Major towns and cities across Ethiopia’s Oromia region are experiencing unrest and widespread violent protests after dozens were killed on October 2 in a stampede triggered when police fired teargas and bullets to disperse protestors at the annual Irrecha thanksgiving celebration in Bishoftu town.
Anti-government protests continued Sunday. Many roads into and out of the capital, Addis Ababa, are blocked by protesters and those who try to drive through are targeted by people who jump out from behind bushes and hurl rocks, witnesses told the Associated Press by phone on Sunday.
The state broadcaster said details of the state of emergency will be communicated to the public later Sunday.
In a separate development, Ethiopian officials summoned Egypt’s ambassador to the country, Aboubakr Hefny, for discussions. The State Minister for Ethiopia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry talked to the Egyptian diplomat after a video appeared online which purportedly shows members of the outlawed Oromo Liberation Front sharing a stage with what Ethiopia’s state broadcaster described as Egyptians.