ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopian lawmakers have extended the state of emergency declared six months ago for an additional four months.
The widely expected extension came amid reports of continued violence and anti-government activities in some restive remote areas.
"We still have some anti-peace elements that are active and want to capitalize on disputes that arise among regional states in the country," Ethiopia's Defense Minister, Siraj Fegessa, told Ethiopian lawmakers when he called for them to approve extension on Thursday morning. "In addition, some leaders of the violent acts that we witnessed before are still at large and are disseminating wrong information to incite violence."
The state of peace and security in Ethiopia is now at a better level but the extension is needed to bring a "lasting peace," said the minister who cited a nationwide poll conducted by the government in which he said the public "significantly" demanded the extension of the law.
Prime Minster Hailemariam Desalegn mentioned the poll in a recent address to parliament, saying that 82 percent of Ethiopians want a partial or full continuation of the state of emergency. However, opposition figures and parties complain that the emergency is being used to clamp down on their members and activities, especially in rural regions.
Ethiopia's parliament is 100 percent controlled by the ruling EPRDF party, no opposition politician was elected in the 2015 general election.
Some parts of the state of emergency have been removed. Arbitrary arrests without court orders and conducting searches without court papers were dropped. The government also lifted bans and restrictions on radio, television and theater. In addition, prohibitions relating to unauthorized movements around infrastructure outlets and factories from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. were repealed.