The Ethiopian Council of Ministers has declared a 6 months state of emergency in Ethiopia.
The announcement was made on state-run EBC Friday evening, barely 24-hours after the resignation of Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn.
The council “came to the conclusion that imposing emergency rule would be vital to safeguarding the constitutional order of our country”, it said.
The duration of the State of Emergency was announced on Saturday by the Minister of Defence who invoked the risk of new “clashes on ethnic lines” and the need to protect constitutional order.
Rights advocates have frequently criticised Ethiopia’s government for mass arrests and long jail terms handed to political opponents and journalists.
But more than 6,000 political prisoners have been freed since January as the government has struggled to placate discontent.
The prime minister’s resignation followed a wave of strikes and demonstrations successfully demanding the release of more opposition leaders.
Ethiopia is in the midst of a political crisis marked by anti-government protests that have been unprecedented for a quarter of a century. The repression of these demonstrations has resulted in at least 940 deaths, according to the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, which is linked to the government.
Relative calm had only returned with the establishment of a state of emergency between October 2016 and August 2017 and thousands of arrests.