Ethiopia’s government has declared a national state of emergency as rival Tigray forces threaten to move on the capital as the country’s yearlong war escalates quickly.
The declaration by the Council of Ministers on Tuesday was the clearest sign of alarm yet from the government of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who a year ago this week allowed soldiers from a neighbouring country to invade the Tigray region and pursue the Tigray forces alongside Ethiopian troops.
Thousands of people have been killed since then.
The United States has warned the Tigray forces, who long dominated the national government before Abiy took office, against any attempt to “besiege” the capital, Addis Ababa, after seizing control in recent days of the strategic cities of Dessie and Kombolcha. That positions them to move down a major highway toward the capital.
The state of emergency takes effect immediately and will last for six months. The government can impose a curfew, disrupt transport services and travel and detain indefinitely anyone suspected of having links with a terrorist group.
Local administrations in some areas could be disbanded and a military leadership could be installed.
Such actions would be implemented by law. Ethiopian lawmakers are expected to convene within 48 hours.