Last Friday (Feb. 16), the Ethiopian government declared a six-month nationwide state of emergency, invoking a grave threat to the constitutional order. The emergency, the second in less than a year, was announced a day after the resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, in what he described as a bid to "smooth the path for political reform." The emergency, which is expected to be ratified by parliament in the coming days, provides the government with new, sweeping powers, from restrictions on freedom of assembly and free expression to the deployment of combat-ready troops in civilian centres, particularly cities and towns seen as the hotbed of the protests of the last three years... An important feature of Ethiopia's state of emergency is the intersection between emergency powers and ethnic identity, in which emergency powers are used by the ruling elites to maintain their social and ethnic privilege. While repression structured around ethnic inequality and violence has long been the defining feature of the state, the new state of emergency adds a distinctive, and more dangerous, dimension to this problem.
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