Ethiopia blames Egypt and Eritrea over unrest [BBC News]

The security forces have been accused of using excessive force to quell unrest
The security forces have been accused of using excessive force to quell unrest

Ethiopia’s information minister has defended the imposition of a state of emergency saying “organised gangs have been targeting civilians”.

Federal troops will be deployed across the country and protests can be banned.

It follows months of anti-government demonstrations by members of the country’s two largest ethnic groups.

Violence has intensified since last Sunday when at least 55 people were killed during a protests at an Oromo religious festival.

The state of emergency, which was announced on Sunday, will last for six months.

BBC World Service Africa editor Mary Harper says the violent protests are the most serious threat to Ethiopian stability in a quarter of a century.

Ethiopia’s Information Minister Getachew Reda told her that the state of emergency could involve banning protests.

“For the sake of maintaining public order the government believes that [the] temporary suspension of certain expression rights is warranted,” he explained.

“Armed violence that has been perpetrated by those organised gangs has been targeting civilians, has been targeting government installations, critical infrastructure.

bus that was torched during protests in the town of Sebeta, Oromia region, Ethiopia, October 8, 2016Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionVehicles were torched in Sebeta, the Oromia region in protests last week
Residents of Bishoftu cross their wrists above their heads as a symbol for the Oromo anti-government protesting movement during the Oromo new year holiday Irreechaa in Bishoftu on October 2, 2016 showsImage copyrightAFP
Image captionCrossing hands across the head has become a symbol of Oromo anti-government protest

“We have ample evidence that it is orchestrated by people who are in the business of not [just] dismantling the Ethiopian government but also dismantling the Ethiopian state in its entirety,” he said.

He also promised that the Ethiopian authorities will investigate claims that “off-grid” police officers have killed civilians.

The protests in recent months have been over a series of frustrations including attempts by the governments to reallocate land in the Oromo region.

Activists among the Oromo and Amhara communities complain that they are being politically excluded.

The Oromo and the Amhara make up about 60% of the population. They complain power is held by a tiny Tigrayan elite.

Map of protests and violence in Ethiopia in 2016

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