Council Declares State of Emergency in Amhara Region

ADDIS ABABA – The Council of Ministers has approved a draft proclamation imposing a state of emergency in the Amhara region, the Office of the Prime Minister said in a statement today.

The move comes amid increasing armed conflicts, endangering civilian lives and causing the destruction of their properties in the region, per the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.

The council of ministers convened to discuss a proposed state of emergency decree a day after the region requested the federal government to intervene and “take necessary measures” to stabilize the region.

The PM office said, “Illegal and violent activities backed by arms are threatening to the safety of citizens and peaceful conduct of socio-economic activities in the region.”

It said, the situation “has reached a point where it can not be managed through regular law enforcement operations, and is posing a threat to constitutional order”.

The council, therefore, decided for a region-wide state of emergency to be imposed in accordance with article 93/1 of the Federal Constitution, the PM Office’s statement read.

The draft decree. named as the state of emergency proclamation No 6/2015, has been approved unanimously, the PM Office said, without delving into the specifics including the length of the emergency rule.

The draft emergency decree has to get the approval of the Ethiopian parliament – currently in recess – within 48 hours, per the constitution.

In the afternoon, Justice Minister Gideon Timotios told state-run news agency ENA that the state of emergency imposed in the Amhara region will remain in force for the next six months.

The decree can also be implemented in other parts of the country when it becomes necessary to stop any activity that may aggravate the security problem at the region or national level, he added.

A State of Emergency Command Post has been established to implement the emergency decree.

The command post is headed by the Director-General of the National Intelligence and Security Service, and will be accountable to the Prime Minister, said Gideon.

The command post has the power to declare curfew, block roads for a certain period of time, and close down or terminate service facilities and transport. It also has the authority to arrest suspects that attempt or prepare to commit crimes against the constitutional order and violate the emergency decree and obstruct its implementation without a court order.