Nairobi, 3 November 2021 (dpa/MIA) — Ethiopia’s central government has declared a nationwide state of emergency for six months following territorial gains by forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
Among other things, the state of emergency allows for roadblocks to be established, transport services to be disrupted, curfews to be imposed, and for the military to take over in certain areas, according to the Council of Ministers.
Anyone suspected of having links with terrorist groups could also be detained without a court warrant under the measures.
Earlier, the authorities called on residents of Addis Ababa to mount an armed defense of their residential areas.
Firearms need to be registered with police within the next two days, a senior city official, Kenea Yadeta, said on Tuesday, adding that all parts of Ethiopian society were called upon to cooperate.
In the past few days, the Ethiopian military was forced to withdraw from important cities in the Amhara region, which borders the capital, in the conflict with the TPLF.
Together with rebels from the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), the TPLF was able to gain access to one of the most important highways in the country and is now advancing on Addis Ababa.
A spokesperson for Antonio Guterres said the UN secretary general was “extremely concerned” by the developments and that the “stability of Ethiopia and the wider region is at stake.”
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden told Congress in a letter that Ethiopia’s duty-free trade access to the United States was being suspended for “gross violations” of human rights.
The US on Tuesday advised its citizens not to travel to the African country in updated travel advice due to “armed conflict, civil unrest, communications disruptions, crime, and the potential for terrorism and kidnapping in border areas.”
“Travel to Ethiopia is unsafe at this time due to the ongoing armed conflict. Incidents of civil unrest and ethnic violence may occur without warning,” the advisory read, adding that further escalation was “likely.”
A year ago the government launched a military offensive against the TPLF, which had been in power in the northern region of Tigray until then.
The TPLF dominated Ethiopia, with its around 115 million inhabitants, for a good 25 years until Abiy came to power in 2018 and ousted it.
Leading members of the military defected to the TPLF, which allowed the rebels to achieve great successes within a short amount of time.
Since the beginning of August, the conflict has spread to the neighboring regions of Afar and Amhara. The clashes have led to a serious humanitarian crisis in the north of the country.