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Ethiopia lifts travel restriction on foreign diplomats as peace returns

Ethiopia lifts travel restriction on foreign diplomats as peace returns

Ethiopia

Ethiopia has lifted restrictions on diplomats travelling in the country without permission. As part of the recently imposed 6-month state of emergency, diplomats were banned from travelling more than 40km (25 miles) from the capital, Addis Ababa.

The Ethiopian government said the move was for the diplomat’s own security. According to the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate, the ban was lifted because relative peace and security had been restored in the East African state.

The country is currently under a Command Post that is implementing the state of emergency. The Minister of Defence, Siraj Fegessa, and secretary of the Command Post disclosed the decision at a press briefing on Tuesday.

Ethiopia imposed a state of emergency on 9 October to quell the worst unrest to hit the country since the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) assumed office over two decades ago.

Diplomats had criticized the travel ban, whiles some said they feared that it will deepen repression under the curfew, the United States embassy in Addis Ababa said it severely affected their ability to assist US citizens.

‘’…the decree restricts U.S. and other foreign diplomats from traveling 40 kilometers outside of Addis Ababa, which severely affects the ability of the Consular Section to assist U.S. Citizens,’‘ the embassy said in a statement.

The embassy in a release titled ‘Security Message for US Citizens: State of Emergency’ reminded US citizens that the decree implementing the state of emergency had been published on the official government website, hence the need to observe all rules to avoid arrest.

The most recent violence in the country occurred in early October during the Irreecha festival in the town of Bishoftu. Some fifty people were killed in the stampede that opposition and rights groups blame on security clampdown.

The government however blames the violence on “anti-peace forces” and “foreign enemies,” picking out Egypt and Eritrea for blame. Even though Eritrea has yet to respond, Egyptian president Al Sisi denied any involvement in the protests.

Ethiopia has since November last year suffered a series of protests in two main regions – Amhara and Oromia. The attendant security clampdown has led to the arrests of over 2000 people and death of hundreds of protesters.

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