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Command Post Forbids Watching ESAT, OMN
Eight days after the state of emergency was declared by the Council of Ministers, a Directive, outlining the do’s and don’ts, actions that can be taken by security forces, ‘red zones’ and curfews, has been announced.
The Command Post can put people in correctional facilities and, depending on the gravity of their offenses, either prosecute them in a court of law or release them.
Siraj Fegessa, Minister of Defence and Secretary of the Command Post, in charge of observing the strict implementation of the state of emergency, announced late on Saturday that diplomats should “for their own safety and well-being, notify and seek permission of the Command Post before travelling outside a 40km radius from Addis Abeba”.
The Directive also strictly forbid tuning into channels showcasing and reporting hostile propaganda on radio or TV stations. This includes “ESAT – Ethiopian Satellite Television and OMN – Oromia Media Network. The provision is open for interpretation to include any other channel that is believed to have same objective and goals – inciting conflict and chaos in the country.
The two channels, based in the United States, have been identified by the government as the mainstream media agencies machinating the violent protest over the past year.
The Directive lists forbidden acts in 20 articles: conspiracy to incite violence and public disturbance; communicating with terrorist organisations; taking part in any unauthorised rallies; participating in the boycotting of provision of services; involving in strikes at learning and sport institutions; causing destruction on infrastructure and religious institutions; causing havoc during public and national holidays; campaigning during religious, cultural and public holidays; obstruction of justice and wearing restricted clothing, such as military uniforms, are all banned by the Command Post.
In addition – the bearing of arms in markets, religious or public gatherings; transferring legally acquired arms to a third party; committing any act that may harm the country’s sovereignty, security and constitutional order; going to restricted areas and supporting activities that will disturb public peace and security, are all prohibited.
Siraj stated what he described as ‘Red Zones’, where the above mentioned restricted acts are especially forbidden within given dimensions and with the application of curfews. The country’s borders, in all four directions, and in the confines of 50km from the boarders, shall come under strict implementation of the state of emergency, with security forces authorised to discharge their duties with every means they see fit.
The geographic curving of the red zones – which focus on the strict implementation of the state of emergency identifies nine major roads in the country: Addis Abeba – Djibouti; Addis Abeba – Shashamane – Dolo; Addis Abeba – Harar; Addis Abeba – Assossa; Addis Abeba – Gambella; Addis Abeba – Gebre Guracha; Addis Abeba – Shashamane – Moyalle; Gonder – Metema and Gonder – Humera.
No one should trespass orders of the Command Post and enter a road that has been blocked for security reasons.
Unauthorised personnel are restricted from any movement past 18:00 hours until 06:00 hours in economic core centres, infrastructure and investment institutions, large scale farms, factories and similar development institutions.
Citizens and organisations are obliged to cooperate in providing information when ordered by law enforcement agencies.
When the forbidden acts according to the Directive of the Command Post are committed, law enforcement agencies can detain and put people under custody without a court warrant. In a similar token, random searches can take place by security forces without a court warrant.
Law enforcement agencies can return vandalised property to its rightful owners; they can enter school premises and remain there to bring law and order.
In doing so, members of the security forces can utilise any means to protect themselves from any harm that can endanger their life, or physical or property’s wellbeing.
Parliament still has not deliberated on the issue and has not established a State of Emergency Inquiry Board mandated to check and report the series of events – including a list of detained individuals and their status on a monthly basis.
Article 93, sub article 5 of the constitution, stipulates that the Board shall comprise seven persons composed of MPs and legal experts.
Details of the State of Emergency announced
Details of the State of Emergency was announced by Siraj Fegessa Minister of Defence and Secretariat of the Command Post on Saturday October15. The details include travel ban and a curfew on investments, major projects and governmental institutions.
Here are the major points
According to the details Diplomats of other Nations cannot go outside of Addis Ababa city on a 40 Kilometer radius. It is stated that the ban is said to be for their own security.
Moreover 50 kilometers from borders inside the country is now a red zone and anyone cannot carry a firearm even if it is legal or any other inflammable things on this red zone. The red zone also includes the country’s major roads that connect to neighboring countries.
The side of the roads to the tune of 25 kilometers on both sides are classified as red zones, according to the secretariat. These roads include the Addis-Djibouti, Addis-Shashamane-Moyale, Addis-Shashamane-Dolo, Addis-Assosa, Addis – Harar, Addis – Gambela, Addis Gebreguracha, Gondar-Metema, and Gondar-Humera.
A curfew was also imposed on major projects, factories, farms and governmental institution that runs from dusk to dawn. The announcement said that anyone cannot enter these institutions after 6 pm and before 6 am. If anyone violates these rules, security forces are ordered to take the necessary measures.
All political parties are also banned from giving press statements that incites violence.
The details also states that no one including religious leaders cannot make political statements on religious gatherings, national, and sportive festivities.
Educational institutions are also included in the details. The directive states that it is banned to demonstrate in educational institutions.
Security forces are also banned to ask for a leave and cannot also resign from their position.
It is also banned to communicate with outside forces using any means of communication including Facebook or any other social media.
Refugees cannot also leave their camp without proper authorization.
It is also illegal now to watch TV stations such as ESAT and OMN and other radio stations.
No one cannot shut down licensed businesses.
In his opening speech at the parliament President Mulatu Teshome (PhD) raised several issues that will be applied during the coming the parliament session.
He said that in this administration there have been problems arising from an inability to correct and resolve failures to handle grievances democratically.
He also accused the outlawed political bodies and Egypt of supporting the unrest.
“The culprit of this massive destruction is the Oromo Liberation Front and certain Egyptian institutions bent on preventing the construction of the Renaissance Dam,” Mulatu said.
This week the Egypt’s President denied the Ethiopian government’s accusation that they were supporting the opposition.
In his description of the next step that the government will apply he said that before the next election the government will widen political and democratic platforms and provide a legal framework, so the House of People’s Representatives can best represent a variety of voices and provide for diverse political interests.
The President also said that the government will ensure that any shortcoming associated with the existing laws will be rectified, problems and pitfalls associated with implementation of these laws will be addressed and new laws will be formulated and adopted where necessary.
According to the President the question of ethnicity and self administration constitutional solutions will be provided and the parliament will endorse the special interest of the Oromia region in the Addis Ababa City Administration.
He recognized that the leadership at the government structure has miserably failed to fully and timely address the demands made and the questions raised by the people.
He said that the government will set up a new council to devise a mechanism to ensure the leadership of the federal and government and regions.
So far there has not been a reshuffling of the cabinet that was expected to occur this week. Recently Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn promised that his cabinet would have new blood including non party members selected by their merit.
The PM stated that the reshuffle would take place just after the opening of second year session of parliament that began on Monday.
Getachew Reda, Minister of the Government Communication Affairs Office, told the media on Monday October 10, that the executive reshuffling would occur in the near future but he did not specify the exact date. “Reshuffling the government has been in the cards. There is expected to be some kind of reshuffling of the government which will be completed within the next couple of weeks because the PM has long since promised that he will reshuffle his cabinet,” he said.
The government says that the destruction in regional towns including rural areas is partly due to a lack of good governance and economic opportunities for the youth.
The government has promised to apply different changes in the government structure including revising the electoral system.
State of Emergency
At the end of the past week the PM, who appeared on state media, disclosed that during the extraordinary meeting held on Saturday October 8 the Council of Ministers approved a state of emergency decree for six months effective that day.
Since the declaration of the state of emergency reports are that the country has been calmer. While the public in urban areas has become nervous and confused by the declaration, which does not yet include a curfew, anecdotal observations are that night life has been affected in towns including Addis Ababa.
The State of Emergency authorizes detention and investigation without a warrant, limitations on free speech and gestures, conditional prohibitions on public gatherings and the imposition of curfews.
The state of emergency includes the entire country although the unrest is limited to two major areas. Getachew explained that this is due to foreign elements attempting to destabilize the country.
“We don’t know where this is going to stop. What we are saying is that there are foreign elements that are helping to destabilize the country,” Getachew explained.
The government has disclosed that it has formed a command post under orders from the PM. The command post includes security institutions lead by the defense force.
“The state of emergency is endorsed to unified command structures,” Getachew explained at the press conference.
He went on to say that the command post has the authority to take action if security forces think it is necessary. Getachew declared that the kind of attack we are facing is not the kind that can be effectively handled through ordinary law enforcement.
The declaration of a state of emergency has grabbed the attention of different bodies in world including the foreign media. In its statement the US Department of State expressed its concern that its ally not abuse the state of emergency.
US State Department spokesperson John Kirby welcomed the government’s offer to address some of the grievances raised by protesters such as land rights and electoral reform.
“Even if these measures are intended to restore order, silencing independent voices and interfering with the rights of Ethiopians is a self-defeating tactic that exacerbates rather than addresses those grievances,” he added.
Prime Minister Hailemariam promised that opposition voices would be heard and will start dialogues with opposition parties about expanding the activity of civic society.
Since the CSO proclamation endorsed about six years ago the activity of civic society has declined.
Since the state of emergency was declared opposition party members have been arrested according to the Blue Party.
In his latest press conference held last Friday Getachew Ambaye, the Federal Attorney General said that some individuals will be arrested since the state of emergency proclamation is allowed to take measures. “But I do not have detailed information about the arrests,” he added.
The regulation that Council of Ministers’ amended on Friday October 14 has guided the command post to come up with a detailed process about what it will do under the state of emergency period.
He said that the command post will disclose the directive that is currently being drafted in the coming few days.
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