U.S. urges Ethiopia to "rethink" martial law

February 19, 2018

File photo shows security personnels patrol on the street in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jan 29, 2011. (Xinhua/Zhao Yingquan)

ADDIS ABABA, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. embassy in Ethiopia on Saturday urged Addis Ababa to reconsider its decision to institute martial law.

In a statement posted on its website, the U.S. embassy said the decision to impose martial law in Ethiopia on Friday reverses positive steps taken to create a more inclusive political space, including the release of thousands of prisoners.

"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 statement said.

Ethiopian National Security Council (ENSC) on Saturday urged citizens to respect the state of emergency that came into effect on Friday.

The Council of Ministers imposed the state of emergency on Friday, saying it was to protect the country's constitution, citizens and their property from the ongoing violent demonstrations in some parts of the country.

The U.S. embassy statement said that "the challenges facing Ethiopia, whether to democratic reform, economic growth, or lasting stability, are best addressed through inclusive discourse and political processes, rather than through the imposition of restrictions."

"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," the statement said.

Ethiopia has been facing incessant protests since 2016, especially in three most populous Oromia, Amhara and Southern regional states.

The unrest has raised concern over the stability of Ethiopia.


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