Ethiopia declares state of emergency; Merkel to visit, will address migrant crisis

Eritrea and Ethiopia fought a two-year border war between 1998 and 2000 which left 80,000 dead, and tensions between the neighbours flared again earlier this year (AFP Photo/Zacharias Abubeker)

U.N. human rights experts urged Ethiopia on Monday to allow an international investigation into its violent crackdown on peaceful protests that monitors say have led to more than 500 deaths since November 2015. Ethiopia's government on Monday blamed Egypt for supporting outlawed rebels and forcing the declaration of the country's first state of emergency in a quarter-century as widespread antigovernment protests continue. Egypt last week denied that it had given any support to the Ethiopian rebels. The two countries have long been in a dispute over a massive hydroelectric dam that Ethiopia is building on the Nile River, with Egypt saying that the project will reduce its share of the river's flow.

What people are looking for is a radical change. The people now want the setting up of a transitional or caretaker government.

Mulatu Gemechu, of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress party

The six-month state of emergency declared Sunday will be used to reorganize the security forces to better respond to the antigovernment protests throughout much of the Oromia region, government spokesman Getachew Reda told journalists in the capital, Addis Ababa. The developments come as German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to visit Ethiopia on Tuesday and meet with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on issues including the migrant crisis. Ethiopia is one of the world's top host countries of refugees. Merkel will discuss the current political situation and "of course, clearly address human rights," German government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said.

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Protesters chant slogans against the government during a march in Bishoftu, in the Oromia region of Ethiopia.

2016 Ethiopian protests

Protests erupted in Ethiopia on 5 August 2016 following calls by opposition groups. Protesters demanded social and political reforms including an end to human rights abuses(including government killings of civilians, mass arrests, government land seizures, and political marginalization of opposition groups).