Ethiopia announced a State of Emergency in Amhara, on Friday, to contain the surge in violence between the army and a local ethnic militia.
Clashes have been going on for months after the Ethiopian government decided to dissolve the Amhara Special Forces (ASF) and other militia groups and integrate them into the federal army or police for a strong unified force. This is part of the federal government’s peace deal with Tigrayan forces. Protesters believe this will leave the region vulnerable to attack from other regions.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office said it was necessary to declare a State of Emergency as a situation has emerged where it has become difficult to control this unacceptable movement under current law. “The threat the activity is imposing on national security and public peace is increasing day by day.”
The State of Emergency empowers the government to impose curfews, restrict movement, ban carrying weapons, ban public gatherings, make arrests and conduct searches without warrants. This week, fighting surged between the Fano militia and the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) and evolved into a security crisis.
It should be noted that Fano was a key ally of the ENDF during the Tigray war. However, relations took a nasty twist due to the government’s decision to weaken regional paramilitary groups. The two, now rivals, clashed near Debre Tabor mid-week and heavy fighting in Gondar. As such, the regional authorities urged the government to take appropriate measures.
Local residents say most people support Fano. They highlighted that there is no government system anymore and no one trusts the government. The unrest is causing serious economic, social and humanitarian damage. Ethiopia’s deputy prime minister Demeke Mekonnen called for dialogue to seek a peaceful resolution.