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Ethiopia bans protests, incitive publications under state of emergency

Ethiopia’s state of emergency (SOE) imposed late last week includes a ban on protests and publications that incite violence, Defence Minister Siraj Fegessa said on Saturday.

The SOE measure was made a day after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced his surprise resignation in a televised speech on Thursday. According to him, the resignation was to smoothen the way for further reforms.

“Unrest and a political crisis have led to the loss of lives and displacement of many.

“I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy,” Desalegn said in a LIVE television address.

According to the state-affiliated FBC: “The decree prohibits preparing, printing and circulating via media writings that could cause disturbance and suspicion among people as well as displaying or publicizing signs which could stir up violence.

The decree also allows law enforcement bodies to detain without court warrant any individual who is believed to have orchestrated, led and organized as well as partaken in criminal acts against the constitution and constitutional order.

Even though it adds that such persons will be made to “face justice after necessary investigation,” this point is at the heart of claims that the army under the measure undertakes arbitrary arrests and detention of hundreds without recourse to due process.

The security forces also have the right to seize materials deemed to be of criminal nature. They could search any houses, areas and vehicles as well as stop, ask and search a person without a court warrant, the Minister noted.

Other restrictions include that a road could be blocked, service delivery institutions could be shut down for some times. People could also obliged to remain at or prevent from entering a specified area.

The Minister stressed that an expanded version of measures under the rule will be communicated subsequently. The measure was approved by the Council of Ministers and is due to be presented to the legislature for approval in 15 days. Parliament is currently on recess.

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