Siraj rules out transitional government
Minister of Defence Siraj Fegessa said during a press conference held at Defence Force Club on Saturday February 17, that there would be no transitional government or military takeover because the current government was democratically elected. Some analysts entertained this idea to alleviate concerns after several significant events including Thursday’s surprise resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn led to the announcement on state media Friday of a new state of emergency.
Siraj Fegessa said protests and group gatherings are banned and that security fources would be instructed to take action against people disturbing the peace. A special court has been set up to prosecute people who incite violence as well.
The parliment is expected to approve the state of emergency within 15 days.
Some political commentators have recommended a national reconciliation committee, the formation of a commission, fresh elections and improving human rights in order to foster a more open political climate in the country.
In a recent statement the ruling coalition EPRDF stated that it would apply moves to improve the political situation. Political prisoners were freed including many last week which led to celebrations among protests.
Siraj was expected to provide details about the state of emergency in the press conference, however, he failed to provide specifics only stating it would be six months with an option to extend another four months, a tribunal would be set up and that protests and group gatherings were banned. Internet shutdowns were also discussed as an option if the situation worsened. The previous state of emergency lasted for ten months, ending in August 2017.
A statement that circulated via state media said more details would come via relevant security heads.
Siraj said that violent gestures (protest gestures) were not allowed, public violence, civil demonstrations and group gatherings were banned.
Ethiopia’s Council of Ministers on Friday cited deaths, ethnic attacks and mass displacement as reasons for the latest state of emergency. The announcement followed protests in towns across the Oromia region on Monday and Tuesday that called for reforms and tension along the Oromia Somali border.
Similar protests have taken place across Ethiopia since 2015, leading the government to declare a state of emergency in October 2016 after hundreds of people if not thousands were reportedly killed.