Ethiopia: Activists on Social Media Have Called for a Nationwide Protest from March 5-7, 2018; Major Transport Hubs to be Blocked

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3-3-2018

Ethiopian activists, mainly from the Oromia regional state, have given the Ethiopian government a deadline to lift the Sate of Emergency (SoE) and disband the military Command Post before tomorrow March 4, 2018 or face a crippling strategic non-violent strike and protest.

The protest call being shared on social media today states that the SoE was not approved by the majority of parliamentarians yesterday and was forcibly rigged. The message states that the SoE is unconstitutional, neutralizes regional governments and hence, the people would be forced to protect themselves and save the country from disintegration.

Accordingly, the activists called on the Ethiopian people take part  in a nationwide anti-government peaceful protest from March 5-7, 2018. The memo distributed on major social media platforms states:

  • All businesses would be closed. There would be no trading. Public offices would be closed. Transportation services will be stopped.
  • All trade routes including the major national corridors where the country’s main import and export activities are conducted are also set to be closed during the protest.

Unlike previous protest calls, this one calls the people to exercise self-defence if the Ethiopian government securities resort to violence. It also warns regional governments from cooperating with Command Post to crush the protests since the SoE inherently dis-empowers and centralizes the federal regions, the call reads.

The message states that there are going to successive protest calls in the future.

Next week several international diplomats are set to arrive in Ethiopia. US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, will arrive in Ethiopia on Wednesday March 07,  the Foreign Minister of the of UAE  Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan will be in Addis Abeba on Monday March 5  and on March 8, 2018, Russian  Sergey Lavrov will arrive in Ethiopia.

The timing of the nationwide protest also seems to be planned in line with these visits to affect the diplomatic leverage and clout of the government.

Since the protest affects the central parts of the country, it is uncertain if the visiting foreign officials would postpone or cancel their trips.

The activists have warned the public to brace for major interruptions by purchasing basic goods ahead and being prepared for severe shortages. Panic buying in shops is expected in the next two days.

The anti-government protests in Ethiopia started in 2015 mainly in Amhara and Oromo regions of Ethiopia and have grown in strategies and persistence despite heavy-handed measures by the government such as declaration of SoE and the killing, wounding and arrest of thousands civilians.

Opposition parties and international rights groups are calling for the formation of a transitional all-inclusive reconciliation dialogue and government.

According to state media causalities have occurred due to protests opposing the SoE today in several towns of the Oromia regional state. The SoE aimed at stopping the protests has been unable to stop the protests.