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Iran Press TV

Ethiopia's parliament extends state of emergency by 4 months

Iran Press TV

Thu Mar 30, 2017 12:59PM

Ethiopia's parliament has renewed a state of emergency that came into force last year following massive anti-government protests in the Horn of Africa country.

The legislature on Thursday approved a four-month extension to the measure, which was first declared by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn six months ago.

"The House unanimously voted to extend the state of emergency," said a report in state media.

The report also quoted Defense Minister Siraj Fegessa as saying that the "extension is needed so as to take the prevailing relatively good peace and security situations to the point of no return."

The extension comes amid continued protests against the government in some remote parts of Ethiopia.

Fegessa said that those continuing the protests sought to take advantage of ethnic disputes in Ethiopia.

"We still have some anti-peace elements that are active and want to capitalize on disputes that arise among regional states of the country," he told parliament.

Ethiopia declared the state of emergency in October, after months of mass protests in various cities and towns. The measure was relaxed on March 15, preventing police from making arrests or carrying out house searches without authorization from judiciary.

The government has also used force to calm down the situation as human rights groups say hundreds have been killed in the crackdown.

The protests in Ethiopia have largely targeted the ruling EPRDF party, which holds 546 seats in parliament and has been in power since the fall of communist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991.

Protesters have carried out attacks on foreign firms and businesses, especially in Oromia, a region close to the capital Addis Ababa and a hotbed of anti-government protests since 2015. Residents of the area, known as Oromo ethnic people, mostly feel excluded from political and economic power in Ethiopia.

The state of emergency is the first in Ethiopia since 1991. Opposition parties have denounced the measure, saying it has enabled the government to clamp down on dissent.

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