Ethiopia declares state of emergency

A wave of strikes and demonstrations hit towns near the capital this week as protesters successfully pressed demands for jailed opposition leaders to be released.

Flag of Ethiopia. Picture: Ethiopiaflag.facts.com

ADDIS ABABA - Ethiopia announced a state of emergency on Friday after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on Thursday announced his intention to step down amid unrest and a political crisis in the Horn of Africa country.

Earlier on Friday, an opposition leader said Ethiopia’s ruling coalition has lost its authority and all parties should be involved in mapping the country’s future.

Mulatu Gemechu, deputy secretary of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress, said the Horn of Africa country needed a completely new political system.

“Ethiopians now need a government that respects their rights, not one that keeps beating and killing them,” he told Reuters.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn unexpectedly resigned on Thursday in what he described as a bid to smooth reforms. Africa’s second most populous nation has been plagued by years of unrest.

A wave of strikes and demonstrations hit towns near the capital this week as protesters successfully pressed demands for jailed opposition leaders to be released.

More than 6,000 political prisoners have been freed since January as the government has struggled to placate simmering anger among the two largest ethnic groups, the Oromo and Amharic, who complain they are under-represented in the country’s corridors of power.