Ethiopia declares state of emergency after prime minister quits

A state of emergency imposed in Ethiopia a day after the prime minister resigned will last for six months, the defence minister said on Saturday, as authorities sought to tamp down unrest in Africa's second most populous nation.
Hailemariam Desalegn speaking during a press conference in Khartoum in August 2017.
Hailemariam Desalegn speaking during a press conference in Khartoum in August 2017.PHOTO: AFP

ADDIS ABABA (BLOOMBERG) - Ethiopia declared a state of emergency, a day after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned following months of protests by opponents of his government.

The decision was announced by the Council of Ministers on Friday (Feb 16), after it convened a meeting to discuss "safeguards to protect the constitution" amid insecurity in various parts of the country, according to a statement published on the state-owned Ethiopian Broadcasting Corp's website.

The declaration cited Article 93 of the constitution, which grants the council "the power to decree a state of emergency, should an external invasion, a breakdown of law and order which endangers the constitutional order and which cannot be controlled by the regular law enforcement agencies and personnel, a natural disaster, or an epidemic occur."

The ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front has faced sporadic, often deadly demonstrations since late 2015.

A state of emergency the following year failed to curb the turmoil mainly in the Oromia and Amhara regions - home to the biggest ethnic groups who say they're excluded from political and economic power.

Last month, the government changed tack, announcing the release of hundreds of political prisoners and promising further reforms.

Those measures have failed to quell the protests, culminating in Hailemariam's resignation on Thursday.