Ethiopia’s state of emergency to last 6 months

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Ethiopia has announced that a state of emergency in the country will last for six months. It comes after the east African nation’s Prime Minister resigned.

Hailemariam Desalegn surprised many when he quit during a televised speech, saying he wanted to smooth the way for further reforms.

Ethiopia’s defence minister said putting the state of emergency in place was crucial as pockets of violence still exist in parts of the country. He’s also banned publications that incite violence – and protests.

That decision comes after more than 6 000 prisoners charged with taking part in mass protests and, in some cases, offences against the state, were released. Many of those prisoners took part in anti-government protests in 2015 and 2016 in Amhara and Oromiya, the country’s two most populous provinces.

The demonstrations began against a government plan to expand the capital Addis Ababa but morphed into greater demands for civil rights. Hundreds of people died in violence during those protests.

Now Desalegn says he will stay on in a caretaker role until a new Prime Minister is named. This isn’t the first state of emergency in Ethiopia in recent times.

Government last imposed one in October 2016, which was lifted in August 2017. During that time, curfews were in place, there were restrictions on movement and around 29 000 people were detained.

Ethiopia is East Africa’s biggest and fastest-growing economy and a Western ally in the fight against Islamist militancy.