Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn declared a six-month nationwide state of emergency on Sunday, saying months of unrest threatened the nation’s stability.
Rights groups say more than 500 people have been killed in protests in the Oromiya region since last year, when anger over a development scheme for the capital turned into more general anti-government demonstrations over politics and human rights abuses.
The government says the death toll is inflated.
“A state of emergency has been declared because the situation posed a threat against the people of the country,” Hailemariam said on state-run television.
“Vital infrastructure, businesses , health and education centers, as well as government offices, and courts have been destroyed,” he said.
He also repeated earlier promises of reform and plans for dialogue with the opposition.
The state of emergency was effective from Oct.8.