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After a year of armed conflict with Tigray, Ethiopia imposes new restrictions

FILE – Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. File photo: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

FILE – Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. File photo: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

Published Nov 6, 2021


Cape Town – Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has implemented a new state of emergency following a year of armed conflict that’s been described by senior TPLF (Tigray People’s Liberation Front) official Getachew Reda as “carte blanche to jail or kill Tigrayans at will.”

On November 2, the federal government of Ethiopia said “citizens whose age are fit for military service and who are in possession of firearms can be ordered to take military training” as well as “to take orders for military missions”, Abiy’s countrywide state of emergency proclamation said.

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Other measures include deploying federal armed forces to any part of the country, closing any means of communication, imposing a curfew, detaining suspected conspirators without a warrant, banning the movement of citizens, and the right to permanently cancel the accreditation of journalists and media houses “who have been suspected of providing direct or indirect, moral or material support to terrorist organisations”.

The state of emergency will be in effect for six months, in the climate of the ongoing war between the country’s federal government and forces of the TPLF, reaching 12 months after a federal military offensive was launched on November 4 last year.

The federal government’s actions came days after the TPLF said it captured two cities that are edging closer to Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, the BBC reported.

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Tigray is Ethiopia’s northern restive region.

The US has called on Tigrayan forces to not take over the capital.

On Wednesday, the US Embassy in Ethiopia labelled the country as a no go travel zone in light of the new state of emergency, with the embassy’s personnel restricted from travelling outside the capital.

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Senior Horn of Africa analyst, Rashid Abdi, said he expected Tigrayan forces to control Addis Ababa by November 4, the one-year anniversary of the armed conflict.

November 3, marks the anniversary of the catalyst of the war, as TPLF forces were accused of attacking a federal military base in Tigray, which led to the Ethiopian federal government’s military offensive being launched.

Twelve months of war has seen six to seven million facing food insecurity, two million fleeing their homes in Tigray, and 900 000 facing famine-like conditions; this according to the largest donor to combat the continuing humanitarian crisis, US Agency for International Development (USAID).

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USAID chief Samantha Power described the situation in Ethiopia as “one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises”.

On Tuesday, Power reiterated that the Ethiopian federal government “continues to block humanitarian aid while people are likely starving to death”.

A joint investigation was released on Wednesday by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the UN Human Rights Office that “calls for an end to violations and abuses by all parties”.

The report documented sexual and gender-based violence, unlawful killings, torture, forced displacement of civilians and violations against refugees between November 3 last year to June 28.

EHRC’s Chief Commissioner Daniel Bekele and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet urged all parties to acknowledge responsibility in the armed conflict “marked by extreme brutality”.

The Ethiopian federal government found the report in line with its own investigation, reiterating findings of genocide and starvation as a weapon of war as “utterly lacking of any factual basis,” according to a statement released on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, TPLF’s Reda believed the report is not impartial, with a flawed methodology and the “EHRC simply read verbatim Abiy’s talking points”.

African News Agency(ANA)