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15 Aug, 2023 17:11

Ethiopian parliament approves state of emergency in Amhara

The measure is a necessary response to the threat to public peace and safety posed by armed clashes, officials say
Ethiopian parliament approves state of emergency in Amhara

Ethiopia’s parliament has approved a state of emergency in the Amhara region, where fierce fighting has been raging between state troops and local Fano militia fighters, resulting in scores of civilian casualties.

The government declared a six-month state of emergency last week in response to violence that broke out earlier this month in the Amhara regional capital of Bahir Dar, Gondar, the historic town of Lalibela, and other cities.

Related peace and security issues shake the constitutional order, present a danger to the sovereignty of the country, and public peace and safety. Therefore, to stop the situation, declaring a state of emergency has become necessary,” Government Chief Whip Tesfaye Beljige said, as quoted by AFP on Tuesday.

A suspected drone strike in the regional town of Finote Selam on Sunday killed at least 30 people and injured more than 55 others, who are currently receiving medical treatment.

All the victims were male, with most in their 20s,” the Addis Standard quoted the head of the town’s hospital, Manaye Tenaw, as saying on Tuesday.

The unrest, the East African country’s worst since a civil war in neighboring northern Tigray ended in November last year, is said to be the result of the government’s decision in April to disband regional security forces and integrate them into the federal military or police.

Protesters, including Fano fighters who fought alongside the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) during the two-year Tigray civil war, argue that the move will expose Amhara to attacks from neighboring regions.

Last week, the country’s director general of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), Temesgen Tiruneh, said militants in Amhara state were attempting to destabilize both the regional and federal governments.

Tiruneh, who is also in charge of enforcing the state of emergency, reported that armed groups fighting the ENDF had taken control of some districts and towns in the region.

Although no official casualty figures have been released, doctors at affected hospitals have reported civilian deaths and injuries.

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC), an independent state-affiliated organization, has expressed “grave concern” about the “heavy fighting” that has occurred since August 3, resulting in “the deaths and injuries of civilians.”

In Bahir Dar, in many areas of the city, civilians were killed on the streets or outside their houses, while some youths were specifically targeted for searches and subjected to beatings and killings,” the EHRC said in a statement on Monday.

The organization has urged the conflicting parties to “immediately” cease hostilities and allow for a peaceful resolution of the crisis.