Ethiopia Declares State of Emergency After Businesses Attacked

  • Security forces gain extra powers for at least six months
  • Minister says ‘foreign elements’ are behind recent assaults

Ethiopia’s government declared a state of emergency after businesses were attacked last week by foreign-backed protesters in the Oromia region, communications minister Getachew Reda said.

Security forces will be re-organized and given “extra powers” to restore law and order for an initial period of six months, which can be extended or reduced by lawmakers, the minister said by telephone from the capital, Addis Ababa, Sunday.

“What we have is an organized attack against people, individuals, groups, investments and mostly targeting the kind of success stories that Ethiopia has been credited for,” Getachew said. “And more importantly, this an attack which is being orchestrated at the behest and with the support of foreign elements so it requires extraordinary measures.”

Anti-government protesters in Oromia, the country’s most populated region, attacked trucks, factories and farms, and also burned down government buildings. The attacks follow the deaths of about 100 Ormo on Oct. 2, when the forced dispersal of a protest at a cultural celebration caused a stampede.

Groups have demonstrated in the area since November amid claims of state repression and marginalization.

The government regularly accuses Eritrea, on the nation’s northern border, of supporting hostile groups while it also blamed Egypt for supporting illegal acts. Ethiopia’s constitution says a council of ministers can suspend certain “political and democratic rights” during a state of emergency.

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