Government Declares National State of Emergency

The government of Ethiopia has declared a national state of emergency as Tigray rebel forces close in on the capital of Addis Ababa. The Tigray war has the potential to devastate the country, which faces the threat of famine and full-scale ethnic warfare. Thousands of people have already died in the conflict, which started in 2020, and war crimes have become routine from all sides of the conflict. The state of emergency will last for at least six months.

Government gives itself sweeping new powers

The Ethiopian government announced the state of emergency with a statement which described the advance of Tigray rebel  forces as an existential threat to the country.

The emergency declaration, effective immediately, will effectively allow the government to implement a state of martial law throughout the country.

All public gatherings and protests are banned and the government will be able to shut down any hostile media. Local governments in some areas will be replaced with formal military rule.

Homes and businesses in the capital will be subject to random searches and any individual suspected of sympathizing with the anti-government forces can be detained indefinitely.

Travel is to be restricted and citizens may be forcibly drafted into the military. These are very extreme measures and they reveal the extent to which the rebels have gained momentum recently.

Unsurprisingly, the United States is suggesting that Americans in Ethiopia make plans to get out of the country in response to a security situation which has “deteriorated significantly.”

Atrocities on both sides

The war originated in a disputed election last year which Tigray held in defiance of a condemnation from the central government, which described the vote as illegal.

After hostilities broke out between the Tigray regional government and the federal government in Addis Ababa, government forces initially gained the upper hand.

The rebels have since rallied and driven federal troops back towards the capital, which Tigray forces are now positioned to advance on following the capture of several strategic towns which have given them access to a major highway leading to the capital.

Ethnic conflict has driven much of the violence and both sides have routinely committed atrocities against civilians in disputed areas. The government has tried to keep outside media away from the frontlines.

Rape is being used as a weapon of intimidation and there have reportedly been violent gang rapes carried out against men, women, and children by government and Tigray forces.

As always, the United Nations is monitoring the situation and releasing strongly worded statements. Rebel forces seem to have no intention of halting their advance.

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By Frank Bergman

Frank Bergman is a political/economic journalist living on the east coast. Aside from news reporting, Bergman also conducts interviews with researchers and material experts and investigates influential individuals and organizations in the sociopolitical world.

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