Ethiopia Extends State of Emergency in Amhara Region

Published: February 2, 2024

Ethiopian lawmakers on Friday extended a state of emergency in the restive northern region of Amhara, where fierce fighting had erupted last year.

Ethiopia’s second most populous region was wracked for months in 2023 by clashes between the Ethiopian military and an ethnic Amhara militia known as Fano.

The government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed imposed a six-month state of emergency in August, giving the authorities sweeping powers to arrest people, impose curfews and ban public gatherings.

A resolution to extend the measure was approved by a majority in the House of People’s Representatives on Friday, with only two votes in opposition and three abstentions, the assembly said in a statement on its Facebook page.

It did not specify how long the state of emergency would last, but according to the constitution it cannot be extended for more than four months at a time.

Abiy’s Prosperity Party has more than 95% of the seats in the assembly, Ethiopia’s lower house of parliament.

“The parliament held an extensive discussion… and finally approved the resolution,” the statement said.

The Amhara violence had reignited concerns about the stability of the Horn of Africa nation, months after a peace deal in November 2022 ended a two-year conflict in the neighboring region of Tigray.

Amhara was also caught up in the Tigray war, with its regional forces fighting alongside federal government troops against Tigrayan rebels.

The Fano, and others from the Amhara community, felt betrayed by the peace deal with the dissident leaders of Tigray, longtime foes of Amhara nationalists who claim parts of Ethiopia’s northernmost region.

In April last year, a move by Abiy’s government to dismantle regional forces across the country also triggered protests among Amhara nationalists who said it would weaken their region.