Ethiopia’s cabinet has declared a six-month state of emergency in the country’s northernmost state, Tigray, following escalation of tensions on Wednesday.
In a statement, the cabinet said the emergency is meant to “maintain the country’s peace, the safety and security of its citizens and to prevent acts that may lead the country to further unrest and instability”.
It said the situation in Tigray state can no longer be “controlled through the regular law enforcement mechanism”.
“The Council of Ministers has decreed the state of emergency recognizing that illegal and violent activities within the National Regional State of Tigray are endangering the constitution and constitutional order, public peace and security, specially threatening the country’s sovereignty, seriously impeding the Federal Government from discharging its constitutional responsibility in the Region, violating decisions of the House of Federation, and understanding that this situation has reached a level where it cannot be prevented and controlled through the regular law enforcement mechanism,” the Ethiopia Council of Ministers said in the statement on Wednesday.
A State of Emergency Task Force, led by the chief of staff of the armed forces and composed of representatives from “pertinent institutions” and accountable to the prime minister, has been established, the statement said.
The move came after rising tension in recent weeks between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s Prosperity Party and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, with each side accusing the other of trying to destabilize the country.
Earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Ahmed ordered military operations in Tigray in response to “deadly attacks” by “traitorous force” on Ethiopian Defense Force personnel stationed in the region.
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