Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia on Sunday evening declared a six-month nationwide state of emergency after months of unrest in the country.
The government said the continuing protests threaten the stability of the country.
Protests that ensued in the Oromia region of the country last year over a development plan for the capital Addis Ababa, led to anti-government demonstrations over politics and human rights abuses leading to death of more than 500 people according to human rights groups.
The government however said the death toll was inflated.
‘A state of emergency has been declared because the situation posed a threat against the people of the country.
‘Vital infrastructure, businesses, health and education centers, as well as government offices and courts have been destroyed,’ the prime minister said on state-run television EBC.
The country’s attorney general Getachew Ambaye in an official announcement said the decree would permit the authorities to stop and search suspects and detain them without court authorization and to carry out house searches.
He also said it prohibits the ‘preparation, distribution and exhibition’ of material that could incite chaos.
Meanwhile the deputy chairman of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress said the move of the government could ‘intensify anger’ and that the unrest could worsen if security forces were to be granted more powers and expand their presence in Oromia.
‘These are peaceful protesters who have been demanding that soldiers are pulled out,’ he said.