US, UK oppose Ethiopia’s declaration of state of emergency


The United States government opposes Ethiopian government’s declaration of state of emergency following the anti-government demonstrations.

“We strongly disagree with the Ethiopian government’s decision to impose a state of emergency that includes restrictions on fundamental rights such as assembly and expression,” the United States Embassy in Addis Ababa said.

“…The declaration of a state of emergency undermines recent positive steps toward creating a more inclusive political space, including the release of thousands of prisoners. Restrictions on the ability of the Ethiopian people to express themselves peacefully sends a message that they are not being heard,” it said in a statement the Embassy issued over the weekend.

Ethiopia and the United States have been enjoying good relations since the overthrow of the Derg Regime in 1991 and replace with the current administration led by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

The United States has been the major partner of Ethiopian government in the fight against terrorism in the East African region and among the top humanitarian development assistance provider to Ethiopian government.

This is for the first time that the United States Embassy in Ethiopia issued strong message opposing Ethiopian government.

“…We recognize and share concerns expressed by the government about incidents of violence and loss of life, but firmly believe that the answer is greater freedom, not less…We strongly urge the government to rethink this approach and identify other means to protect lives and property while preserving, and indeed expanding, the space for meaningful dialogue and political participation that can pave the way to a lasting democracy,” it said.

According to Ethiopian state broadcaster (EBC), the Ministers of Council declares state of emergency on Friday and will be in place for the coming six months. The decision has followed the requests made to the government by people from different parts of the country whose lives and investments  are at risk because of the extended anti-government protests, according to the report.

Another development partner of Ethiopia, the United Kingdom has also expressed concern over the declaration of state of emergency in Ethiopia. “…We are however, concerned and disappointed by the decision to impose a new State of Emergency,” said UK’s Minister for Africa Harriett Baldwin.

“It sends a discouraging signal to the international community and foreign investors. We strongly hope that the announcement does not signal a reversal in Ethiopia’s recent moves towards reform, and that it will be in place for as short a time as possible. In implementing the State of Emergency, we urge the Government of Ethiopia to ensure that human rights and the constitution are respected. Widespread use of detention powers and internet blockages should be avoided,” the Minister added.