Four months after declaring a state of emergency in a crackdown on protests, Ethiopia’s government claims the country has returned to normal. Critics says the emergency decree remains an instrument of repression.
This coming April marks three years since protests broke out in Ethiopia. They were triggered by students in Ambo town, some 120 kilometers (74 miles) west of the capital Addis Ababa. The students were protesting against a controversial government plan dubbed “Addis Ababa and Oromia Special Zone Integrated Master Plan”.
The Ethiopian government maintained that the purpose of the plan was to amalgamate eight towns in Oromia Special Zone with Addis Ababa. The scheme would promote development.
However, residents in the eight towns were resentful of a plan they said had been devised behind closed doors. They were also worried that the plan, under the guise of development, would deprive farmers of their land, and have an unfavorable impact on local language and culture.