Ethiopian foreign minister defends state of emergency


Ethiopia’s foreign minister has defended the state of emergency declared last week, even as demonstrators staged boycotts in the northern part of the country.

Dr Workneh Gebeyehu met foreign diplomats in the capital Addis Ababa, telling them the move was necessary to restore calm in the country following months of violent protests which, he said, had threatened the country’s stability and economy.

His meeting with the diplomats came even as people in Northern Ethiopia defied the state of emergency and boycotted work for a second day running.

Businesses and schools have remained closed since Monday and transport in the cities of Gondar and Bahir Dar have been paralysed by the strike action.

Local reports also say people in the Southern regions are also observing the strike.

The boycotts are similar to the one observed last week in Ethiopia’s largest region Oromia.

Meanwhile, the Amhara regional state has freed more than 300 people who were in prison, as part of releases promised by the government.

It all comes as Ethiopia is facing a tumultuous time.

Last week’s abrupt resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has thrown the country into its worst political crisis in years.

Parliament is expected to come out of recess to endorse the state of emergency and also choose the country’s new leader.

The 180-member council of the ruling EPRDF coalition is expected to meet soon to elect a new chairman who will automatically become the next prime minister.

Hundreds of people have died and thousands arrested since anti government protests erupted in Ethiopia in 2015.