Ethiopia’s federal government has declared a “state of emergency” as violent clashes escalate between the national army and local fighters from the northern region of Amhara.
“It has become 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 office of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said in a statement posted on social media.
The statement did not make clear if the state of emergency applied nationwide or just to Amhara, which lies to the north of the capital Addis Ababa.
Clashes in Amhara between the national army and local fighters have escalated in recent weeks, prompting travel warnings from foreign governments and the cancellation of flights by the national carrier Ethiopian Airlines.
Tensions have been rising since April when the federal government announced it was dismantling regional forces including in Amhara, where nationalists felt the move would weaken Ethiopia’s second most populous region.
On Thursday, local authorities in Amhara asked the federal government for assistance managing security as the situation had become “difficult to control” and was causing social and economic disruption in the region.
The government said the violence “endangered the constitutional order” and the decision to invoke a state of emergency was “unanimous”.