Ethiopia set to lift state of emergency two months early

Authorities imposed emergency rule in February after the sudden resignation of ex-Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

    The bill will be sent to Ethiopia's parliament for consideration [File: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters]
    The bill will be sent to Ethiopia's parliament for consideration [File: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters]

    Ethiopia 's cabinet has approved a draft law to lift a six-month state of emergency two months early after assessing that "law and order" has been restored in the country.

    Authorities imposed the emergency rule in February after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn abruptly resigned, citing ongoing "unrest and a political crisis" in the country as major factors in his decision.

    He was later replaced as prime minister and chairman of the ruling coalition by Abiy Ahmed.

    "The Council of Ministers ... reviewed the security situation of the country. It noted that law and order has been restored," the prime minister's chief of staff, Fitsum Arega, said on Saturday in a post on Twitter.

    The draft law will be sent to parliament for consideration.

    It was not immediately clear when that would take place. Ethiopia's 547-seat House of People's Representatives often holds its sessions on Monday.

    Its legislators - all members of the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front coalition (EPRDF) - are expected to endorse the move.

    Thousands released

    Mass protests erupted in 2015, when anti-government demonstrations broke out among the Oromo, Ethiopia's biggest ethnic group, 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, were met with a harsh government response.

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    In August 2017, Ethiopia lifted a 10-month state of emergency imposed after hundreds of people were killed in anti-government protests demanding wider political freedoms.

    Since the election of Ahmed, the first Oromo prime minister in the 27 years EPRDF has been in power, the authorities have pledged to push through a raft of reforms.

    Ahmed has travelled to several areas of the country, promising to address grievances and strengthen a range of political and civil rights.

    In addition, several thousands of prisoners have been released and tensions in restive areas, notably Oromia, have dramatically declined.

    Some of the high-profile releases include Andargachew Tsige, an Ethiopian-born British citizen and opposition leader on death row, and Swedish doctor Fikru Maru.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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