The Ethiopian government has relaxed some of the restrictions on civil liberties imposed under a state of emergency declared on October 9, 2016. Curfews imposed near industrial sites and mega projects are no longer in effect, while the Command Post formed to enforce the decree can no longer arrest suspects without having court warrants issued, Siraj Fergessa, minister of Defense and secretary of the Command Post, disclosed today at a press briefing. Neither security forces can enter and search private premises without orders from courts and they are denied the ability to detain suspects incommunicado, the Minister said.
However, he stopped short of disclosing if and whether the state of emergency be lifted within the six-month deadline the government set upon passing the decree, attributing it to lingering security concerns and “isolated attempts” for violent protests. The Minister disclosed that surveys carried out by the government show that “majority of the people” polled favour the possible extension of the state of emergency.
Massive, recurrent and widespread violent protests ignited in Oromia, Amhara and Southern regional states mid-last year have forced the cabinet of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to declare a state of emergency, the first of such measure since the EPRDF took power in 1991.