Tuesday’s vote by Ethiopian lawmakers to end the country’s three-month-old state of emergency was a sign that mediation efforts to end the deadly war in northern Ethiopia continue.
After Ethiopia’s Council of Ministers was chaired on Jan. 26, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed decided to end the six-month-old state of emergency. This decision was based on recent developments in conflict.
In early November, the state of emergency was declared as Tigray forces fighting Ethiopian and other allied forces moved closer towards Addis Ababa. In late December, the Tigray fighters pulled back into their area under pressure from a drone supported military offensive by government.
Witnesses, lawyers, and human rights organizations claim that thousands of predominantly ethnic Tigrayans were held under the emergency state. Many were released following the December shift in war.
Tuesday was not immediately clear as to when the remaining people under emergency detention would be released. Amir Aman Kiyaro, a freelance videographer who is accredited to The Associated Press.
“We demand that this action be immediately followed with the release of all persons arrested or detained under the state emergency,” stated the U.S. State Department, adding that “the ending of these detentions” will facilitate a productive and inclusive national dialogue.
Fana Broadcasting, a state-affiliated broadcaster, reported that the state of emergency investigation board was instructed to complete any outstanding work within one month and report back at the relevant body. Judicial bodies are also directed to complete emergency law-related cases in the regular judicial process.
Stephane Dujarric, a spokesperson for the United Nations, told reporters that the secretary-general encouraged Ethiopian authorities “to take further measures to ensure that the decision is followed-up by the release of those remaining persons that are detained as a consequence of the state of emergency or for the reasons why they were detained to be regularly reviewed at minimum by a court or other independent impartial judiciary.”
An advisory committee of the Ethiopian parliament stated that lifting the emergency status would help to revive the country’s diplomatic and economic situation. Tagesse Chafo, the speaker of Parliament, stated that the advisory committee believes that regular law enforcement can deal with the country’s security threats.
Fana Broadcasting reported on the concerns expressed by some members of the advisory panel regarding the threats posed to the federal army and its allies by the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front, and the Oromo Liberation Army.
A new “corrective measure”, according to the parliament speaker, is being implemented to address security threats in the Gambella, Afar, Benishangul Gumuz, Gambella, and Amhara regions as well as the Wellega region in the Oromia region.
The war in Ethiopia that broke out in November 2020 is believed to have resulted in the deaths of many thousands and the displacement of many millions. The war is now over in many places, including the Tigray, Amhara, and Amhara regions. However, there are still concerns in the northeastern Afar.
The U.N. continues to limit aid to Tigray, putting millions at risk.