Directives for implementation of Ethiopia’s State of Emergency

A Command Post headed by the Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn was set up at the weekend and made public a series of directives for the implementation of the nation-wide six-month State of Emergency announced on October 8. The State of Emergency declared by the Council of Ministers is aimed at maintaining law and order as well as preserving the integrity of the country. The directive, comprising 31 articles in three sections, provides details of coordination of law enforcement measures against security threats endangering the safety and security of the people and the sovereignty of the country.


It was in this context that the country’s Minister of Defense and Secretary of the newly established Command Post, Siraj Fegessa, gave details to the media on Saturday (October 17), highlighting the new directives  and the actions prohibited under the six-month long State of Emergency. The Minister emphasized that the diplomatic community should not travel outside a 40 kilometer radius of Addis Ababa without notifying the Command Post and seeking its permission. The object of this is to provide a guarantee for their safety and security during the implementation of the State of Emergency. The Minister noted that the new directive also required refugees residing in refugee camps across Ethiopia not to travel without any prior authorization from the Command Post.


The directives prohibit any form of action, agitation or communication that incites violence and public disturbances across the country. This includes anything that might precipitate violence and public disturbance, or sows seed of mistrust and hostility among peoples. Addressing the issue of terrorist and anti-peace activity, the directive prohibits any form of contact and communication with terrorist groups and anti-peace organizations or groups. It forbids making use or circulating documents or reports relating to terrorist groups and anti-peace elements as designated by the House of Peoples’ Representatives. It also forbids flaunting of any logos or material showing terrorist or anti-peace markings. The directive proscribes watching or reporting any media, including television and radio broadcasts, that emanates from terrorist and anti-peace groups. Among these it specifically mentioned the Oromo Media Network and Ethiopian Satellite Television and Radio.


Underlining the importance of safeguarding the peace and security of the people, the directives proscribe holding public assemblies and demonstrations without the authorization of the Command Post. No one is allowed to close public institutions, shops or commercial entities or discontinue provision of services, or to call for a strike. The directive prohibits absence from work without any justifiable excuse. It also forbids acts of deliberate incompetence at the workplace or any intimidation against public servants and employees engaged in the private sector which might prevent people from carrying out their regular duties.


The directive also prohibits strikes at educational institutions including schools and universities, and forbids acts that disrupt the traffic or movement of any form of transportation. These prohibitions cover anything that might damage or destroy private and public institutions, infrastructure, public and private investment projects, or religious institutions. The directive makes it clear that no one is permitted to impede public and national holidays, and prohibits acts that call for any political activity during the celebration of such holidays. It makes it illegal to make any statements that incite violence or provoke mistrust and suspicion at religious, cultural and public holidays. Hindering law enforcement agencies and their personnel or failing to cooperate with such bodies is also prohibited.


The directive prohibits any unauthorized person from wearing the uniform of law enforcement personnel;  from carrying weapons at religious institutions, sites of celebration for public holidays, and business centers; or passing on firearms to a third party. The directive forbids anyone from trying to disrupt or endanger the country’s sovereignty, national security, and constitutional order. Anything that endangers or threatens the long-standing spirit of tolerance and unity among the peoples of Ethiopia is forbidden. Similarly, no one should extend support to anyone bent on disrupting the state of peace and security of the people. The directive requires law enforcement personnel to carry out their duties without taking annual leave during the six-month period of State of Emergency.


The Command Post, which is in charge of coordinating the law enforcement measures, will make public as necessary where some of the specific measures are to be applied. This includes any imposition of curfews, or authorization of law enforcement personnel to take measures against attacks against infrastructure or investments. The directive also covers measures to list where violations of the State of the Emergency take place and steps for rehabilitation to be taken by the Command Post according to the constitution.