Ethiopia: Emergency Declared after PM Hailemariam Resigns

The Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalgn, addresses guests during the inauguration ceremony of the Somalia's newly elected President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo in Mogadishu on February 22, 2017. Wikimedia Commons through AMISOM Photo / Ilyas Ahmed
The Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalgn, addresses guests during the inauguration ceremony of the Somalia's newly elected President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo in Mogadishu on February 22, 2017. Wikimedia Commons through AMISOM Photo / Ilyas Ahmed

The Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam has stepped down after massive protests setting the stage for a race of succession.

Ethiopia has been going through political uncertainty to eventually result in the Prime Minister’s resignation.

Hailemariam’s resignation is seen as a transformational movement by his supporters while the oppositions regard this move as the success of the wave of protests that have been raging for a while.

 The political analysts fear that the resignation of Hailemariam may result in violent races for succession.

Ethiopia has already been rocked by violent protests and the ensuing apprehension alarm of more uncertain days to come.

Prime Minister Hailemariam has been in power of Ethiopia since 2012 to mark the end of his tenure on Thursday with a surprising announcement of resignation.

He said the unrest and political crisis led him to resign in pursuit “to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy.”

The experts on Ethiopian politics expected the Prime Minister later or sooner. But his resignation so early came as a surprise to many political analysts.

Ethiopian political spectrum is complicated with different ethnic groups. The most powerful party of the coalition government the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) controls the most influential positions in the government but Tigrayan people are only six percent of the total population.

Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) and the Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organisation (OPDO) represent the Oromo and Amhara people who constitute sixty-one percent of the total population.

The protests which led the Prime Minister to resign are of these two groups of people who demand greater freedoms and a better life.

The Ethiopian government arrested tens of thousands of people in 2015 when anti-government protests raged against the ruling coalition resulting in the declaration of emergency which lasted for months.

Recently, the government began to release the arrested political figures.  Ethiopia released its prominent opposition leader Merera Gudina from prison after a year of detention in January.

The move followed an announcement by the Ethiopian Prime Minister Desalegn Hailemariam to release the jailed politicians. The Ethiopian Prime Minister Desalegn Hailemariam announced that the charges against the jailed politicians will either be ‘annulled or pardoned’.

His government took the move to “improve the national consensus and widen the democratic space.”

State of Emergency Declared

Following the resignation of the Prime Minister, the government has declared a state of emergency once again in Ethiopia.

The government said the state of emergency will last for six months. Reuters quoted the Ethiopian Defense Minister saying, “There are still pockets of areas where violence is prevalent. The (ruling EPRDF coalition‘s) council were unanimous in their decision.”

The move (initially without specifying how long) was announced only a day after the Prime Minister stepped down. The state broadcaster of Ethiopia EBC said the move was taken by the Council of Ministers, the Ethiopian government’s cabinet.

Ethiopia lifter a 10-months long state of emergency in August 2017 following Oromo and Amhara people’s massive protests for wider political freedoms.

Following the latest government move, Oromo rights activist Jawar Mohammed described it as “unnecessary, unhelpful and unwise.”

“The best way to ensure stability at this time is not to declare a state of emergency that was tested and failed,” Mr. Mohammed wrote on Facebook.


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