East African nation, Ethiopia protests have led to a state of emergency being declared.
The Ethiopian Government has declared a state of emergency effective immediately following violence and unrest in the Oromia region.
According to Reuters, Oromia has experienced protests since November 2015 as people have called for wider political freedoms.
The state of emergency is coming after months of often violent anti-government protests, especially in the restive Oromia region.
Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn on Sunday announced on state-run television:
“A state of emergency has been declared because the situation posed a threat against the people of the country.”
According to local media, the state of emergency, declared for the first time in 25 years, will last for six months.
Earlier on Sunday, the state Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) reported that the state of emergency was effective as of Saturday evening.
The EBC said it was as a means to “deal with anti-peace elements that have allied with foreign forces and are jeopardizing the peace and security of the country”.
Ethiopia Protests Get Violent As Death Toll Rises
It further stated that the Council of Ministers discussed the damage by the protests across the country and declared the state of emergency.
The protests reignited this week in the Oromia region started after dozens of people were killed in a stampede on October 2.
Protests in the Oromia region was sparked by police firing tear gas and warning shots at a huge crowd of protesters attending a religious festival.
The Oromia region has been the main focus of a recent wave of demonstrations in Ethiopia.
Official death toll released by the government was 55.
Opposition activists and rights groups believe more than 100 people were killed as they fled security forces, falling into ditches dotting the area.
Ethiopian government officials say factories, company premises and vehicles were burnt out completely or damaged during the recent wave of protests.
Many roads leading to the capital, Addis Ababa, were reportedly blocked.
The death toll from unrest and clashes between police and demonstrators over the past year runs into several hundred.
This is according to estimates from opposition and rights groups.
According to New York-based Human Rights Watch statement in August, at least 500 people have been killed by security forces.
Reacting, the Ethiopian government said such figures were inflated and have denied that violence from the security forces is systemic.
In August, the Ethiopian government rejected a United Nations call to send in observers.
They said the government alone was responsible for the security of Ethiopian citizens.
Ethiopia Protests: Government Declares State of Emergency
The anti-government protests started in November among the Oromo.
The Oromo are Ethiopia’s biggest ethnic group.
Protests later spread to the Amhara, the second most populous group.
The demonstrations later spread to the Amhara region, the second most populous group.
Although the protests initially began over land rights, they later broadened into calls for more political, economic and cultural rights.
Both groups say that a multi-ethnic ruling coalition and the security forces are dominated by the Tigray ethnic group.
The Tigray ethnic group makes up only about 6 percent of the Ethiopian population.
The Ethiopian government, however, blames rebel groups and foreign-based dissidents for inciting the violence.