Ethiopia announced a state of emergency on Friday after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on Thursday announced his intention to step down amid a political crisis in the Horn of Africa country.
The ruling EPRDF coalition’s council met on Friday and decided to impose emergency rule, the state-run Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation said. The announcement did not say how long the rule would be in place.
The council “came to the conclusion that imposing emergency rule would be vital to safeguarding the constitutional order of our country”, it said. Further details are expected to be given by the defense minister on Saturday morning.
Mulatu Gemechu, deputy secretary of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress, said Ethiopia needed a completely new political system after years of unrest.
“Ethiopians now need a government that respects their rights, not one that keeps beating and killing them,” he told Reuters.
Rights advocates have frequently criticised Ethiopia’s government for mass arrests and long jail terms handed to political opponents and journalists.
But more than 6,000 political prisoners have been freed since January as the government has struggled to placate discontent.
The prime minister’s resignation followed a wave of strikes and demonstrations successfully demanding the release of more opposition leaders.