The United States says it “strongly disagrees” with Ethiopia’s new state of emergency, saying the answer to the country’s sometimes violent unrest is “greater freedom, not less.”
The statement by the U.S. Embassy comes a day after the East African nation announced its latest months-long state of emergency amid the worst anti-government protests in a quarter-century.
Ethiopia’s government in recent weeks had released more than 6,500 detained opposition figures and others after the prime minister in an unexpected announcement in January said he wanted to “widen the democratic space for all.”
But on Thursday the prime minister announced he had submitted his letter of resignation, saying he hoped it would help planned reforms succeed.
Amid the new political uncertainty, the U.S. statement warns that the state of emergency “undermines recent positive steps toward creating a more inclusive political space.”
Ethiopia’s defense minister is ruling out a military takeover a day after the East African nation declared a new state of emergency amid anti-government protests.
Siraj Fegessa also ruled out a transitional government. Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn remains in the post after announcing Thursday he had submitted a resignation letter to help planned reforms succeed.
The defense minister says the state of emergency will last for six months with a possible four-month extension, similar to one lifted in August.
The state of emergency, which effectively bans protests, will be presented for lawmakers’ approval within 15 days. Siraj says security forces are instructed to take “measures” against those disturbing the country’s functioning.
Ethiopia’s cabinet on Friday cited deaths, ethnic attacks and mass displacement as reasons for the latest state of emergency.