Ethiopia’s incoming prime minister must prioritize addressing the deep-rooted human rights crisis in the country, said Amnesty International, following the election of Abiy Ahmed as chairman of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) party.
‘‘If approved as prime minister, Abiy and his government must take urgent measures to address the human rights crisis in Ethiopia, through concrete and genuine reforms,’‘ Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.
Abiy’s elevation to the helm of the ruling coalition comes at a time when the country has declared a state of emergency, the second of its kind in less than two years, imposing severe restrictions on the exercise of human rights and freedoms.
The state of emergency has met stiff resistance from the people in the Oromiya and Amhara regions and has been criticised by many of Ethiopia’s allies in the West.
In one of the most shocking incidents since the announcement of the state of emergency on 16 February, security forces killed at least 12 civilians and wounded many more in the southern town of Moyale.
The Command Post for the state of emergency admitted wrongful killings of civilians in Moyale, alleging it was caused by “mistaken intelligence report”.
Political prisoners including opposition leaders, bloggers and journalists who were recently released as part of reforms advanced by the former premier, have recently been arrested and detained without charges.
‘‘The killings of civilians, re-arrest of recently released political prisoners and the new wave of arrests bodes ill for the long-promised reform agenda in Ethiopia,’‘ added Shetty.
“Abiy’s new government must start by releasing all prisoners of conscience and reforming or repealing all repressive laws, including the draconian Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and the Ethiopian Charities and Societies Proclamation, which have played a significant role in rolling back the human rights gains in the country.”
Parliament will convene on Monday April 2 to confirm Abiy as the country’s new prime minister.