Despite the declaration of a State of Emergency (SoE) across Ethiopia by the government two weeks ago, the Gurage Zone of Southern Region of Ethiopia, Oromia region of Ethiopia and Amhara region’s general strike two weeks ago with a possible protest next week, the TPLF/EPRDF Front has been proven to have lost the authority to govern the majority of the country.
The draconian SoE bans all forms of dissent.
The demands of the protesters include the lifting of the SoE and the government to sit down and negotiate with all opposition forces.
Several people have reportedly been killed today and yeserday mostly in the Oromia region by government forces.
The protests in Gurage Zone and Oromia region will continue until Wednesday. Major roads, transport hubs and businesses have been closed. Schools and public offices have also been closed. Despite being pressurized by government securities to start service, they have refused to do so fearing attacks by protesters.
The main bus station in Merkato, Addis Abeba, has also been closed.
Ethiopians living in the US have also held demonstrations outside the U.S. Department of State and Congress to denounce the SoE declared Ethiopia and help change in the country. Ambassador Donald Yamamoto, acting assistant secretary, Bureau of African Affairs said on Monday that US Secretary State Tilerson’s trip to Ethiopia includes discussions on local political crises.
Late updates from the suburbs of Addis Abeba indicate the deployment of heavy military convoys outside and soldiers brought from military camps to control the protests. Gunshot is also being heard in various regions. Other sources have reported that pro-government and regional police officers that sided with the people have exchanged fires each other.
Shortage of foreign currency has also affected the government’s mega development projects as well as the economy. The recent remittance embargo campaign and recent general strikes have also hiked prices of goods or led to the total disappearance of products in the market.
The protest call was made last Saturday on social media. 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 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.