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Ethiopia decries foreign hands for internal unrest

Oct 10, 2016, 6:28 AM EDT
Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn

The Ethiopian government declared a state of emergency across the country on Monday, accusing foreign powers of arming, training and financing the groups that have been holding violent, anti-regime protests for several months. The state of emergency, which has been imposed for the first time in 25 years, will last for six months.

Government spokesman Getachew Reda named Eritrea and Egypt as the backers of “armed gangs” in Ethiopia, reports Reuters. Reda however added that non-state actors from these two countries may be involved in stoking violence in Ethiopia. Addis Ababa has long-running disputes with Eritrea and Egypt over border and water sharing respectively.

Anti-government demonstrations rekindled in the Oromia region last week after more than 50 people were killed in a stampede, allegedly triggered by use of excessive force by police on October 2, writes Al Jazeera

The demonstrators from the Oromo and the Amhara, two of Ethiopia’s biggest ethnic groups have been demanding greater political, economic and cultural rights. There are concerns about the extent of powers that the state of emergency will grant to Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. In the past, the country has had its internet services blocked to cut off any communication and prevent the protests from spreading.