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Ethiopia declares 6-month emergency to 'restore order' after anti-government protests

Ethiopian PM Hailemariam Desalegn said the emergency was 'essential' to restore peace and order. Photograph: (Reuters)

AFP Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Oct 09, 2016, 01.11 PM (IST)

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn declared an emergency for six months in the country saying that it was 'vital' to restore normalcy in the country which has been rocked by anti-government protests since the last few months. He also said that the emergency would come into effect from October 8.

"A state of emergency has been declared because the situation posed a threat against the people of the country. The state of emergency is vital. It is essential to restore peace and stability over a short period of time," Hailemariam said on state-run television.

He also said that his government, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition, was considering reforms and would hold talks with opposition parties.

Ethiopia is facing its biggest anti-governemnt protests in a decade led by the Oromo and the Amhara communities, which constitute 60% of the population, are unhappy with the excessive power wielded by the minority Tigrean community in the government and security forces.

The protests intensified after 55 people were killed in a stampede after police fired tear-gas at anti-government protesters during a festival in the Oromo region. One of Africa's fastest growing economies, Ethiopia has also been criticised for the authoritarian approach to development and for displacement of farmers to make way for commercial agriculture.

Last week, protesters torched vehicles and damaged almost a dozen mostly foreign-owned factories and flower farms, protesting against the land grab policy of the government.

More than 450 the number of people have been killed in the unrest since 2015, say rights groups and opponents. A US researcher was killed on Tuesday when her car was attacked by stone-throwers near Addis Ababa.

The government, however, claims that the toll has been inflated.

(WION with inputs from agencies)

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