Authorities in Ethiopia have arrested more than 1,100 people since the country declared a state of emergency after the prime minister’s resignation last month, according to state media.
Hailemariam Desalegn’s abrupt decision to step down on February 15 came after more than two years of anti-government protests.
The move prompted the government to declare a six-month state of emergency – the second such measure in two years – in a bid to stem political unrest amid long-standing demands for greater freedoms.
The state-affiliated Fana Broadcast Corporate said on Saturday that 1,107 people have been detained for violating the emergency decree, which includes a ban on protests and the dissemination of publications “that could incite and sow discord”.
“They were detained for killing peaceful civilians and security forces, setting houses and financial institutions ablaze, illicit movement of firearms, destroying government and public institutions (and) blocking roads,” Fana reported, citing Tadesse Hordofa, chairman of the State of Emergency Inquiry Board.
Anti-government demonstrations broke out among the Oromo, Ethiopia’s biggest ethnic group, in 2015 and later spread to the Amhara, the second biggest group.
The protests, which initially began over land rights but later broadened to include calls for greater political representation at the national level, met a harsh government response.
Human rights groups said hundreds of people were killed by security forces during the violence, while thousands of others were arrested.
Earlier this week, the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition elected Abiy Ahmed as its leader.
He is set to be sworn in as prime minister early next week, succeeding Hailemariam and becoming the first Oromo prime minister in the 27 years EPRDF has been in power.