On March 30, 2017, the House of Peoples’ Representatives approved extending the current State of Emergency by 4 months. Speaking to MPs on reasons behind the deferment of the State of Emergency, Head of the Command Post of the State of Emergency Secretariat, Defence Minister Siraj Fegesa, said: “The main reason to seek Parliament’s approval for an extension stems from the fact that out there are individuals and groups who still are hellbent on using violence to redress their grievances.”
No responsible and responsive Government likes imposing a State of Emergency, for it knows all too well that the ripple effects of its unsavoury decision is bound to have an adverse impact on a swathe of their nation’s socio-economic sectors. And the Government of Ethiopia is no exception. While the Government acknowledged, and was ready and willing to proactively address public dissatisfaction - the misuse and abuse of public office, the snail’s space its much-vaunted growth and transformation was taking for the dividends to trickle down to the lower strata of society and tales of mind boggling corruption – rioters were however in no mood to toe the Constitutional line, but instead took recourse to acts of vandalism and utter lawlessness.
Prime Minister Haile Mariam’s “listening-and-reawakening” administration was at pains to impose a six-month State of Emergency in the first place, never mind defer it now by a further four month. But push had come to shove as Ethiopia’s toxic diaspora – those hell-bent on overthrowing Ethiopia’s democratically elected government of Ethiopia by violent means – unleashed coordinated efforts to achieve their long-cherished ambition of mugging Ethiopia’s constitutional order. So, they indulged in pedalling falsehood and fake news on social media, and worst of all attempted to pit one ethnic group against another – all in the name of their version of an Ethiopian unity which happens to be at odds with the widely popular notion of “Unity in Diversity!”
Close observers of the Ethiopian scene agree that this decision by the Administration of Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalgn will go down in history as a timely measure that salvaged Ethiopia from the cusp of balkanization.
The State of Emergency that came into force in October 2016 was like no other. Unlike the Derg’s 17-year State of Emergency which was bestially draconian, this one is subject to stringent parliamentary oversight. In fact, it can be described as “a velvet State of Emergency.” For a start, there was no curfew in “The Brussels of Africa!” Of those who were detained – the great majority of whom gave themselves up to the Police voluntarily – nearly all were released after a 3-month orientation on the need and benefit of toeing the Constitutional line when protesting, rather than get carried away by a binge of populism and the pie-in-the-sky propaganda of those intent on fishing in troubled waters.
The impact of the cause of the State of Emergency to the economy was greater than the impact of the execution of the State of Emergency on the economy. Close to 40000 people were made unemployed by acts of vandalism and arson, thereby leaving dent on Ethiopia’s reputation as an oasis of peace and tranquillity in a troubled region. Direct foreign investment in Ethiopia picked up as the international community gave its thumbs up to EPRDF’s overtures to opposition parties to discuss on enhancing democracy in Ethiopia.
Politically EPRDF’s bailiwick – its ability and culture to undergo a rapid, robust and effective self-and-peer-assessment when faced with a challenge – has allowed it to identify its weaknesses and deformities and usher in a holistic rectification program that many agree constitute a sure-fire formula to address public grievances. The ongoing “deep-assessment-and-robust-awakening” crusade has given the public a golden opportunity to give vent to pent-up feelings of anger and resentment. Moreover, the crusade has allowed Ethiopians to close ranks in the face of subversive actions by Ethiopian quislings in Asmara who leave no stone unturned to fish in troubled waters.
That is why it is of paramount importance for the Command Post of the State of Emergency Secretariat to weed-out wolves in sheep clothing from the society before its mission comes to an end. Hence the justification for the 4 months’ extension of the State of Emergency.