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Months Of Protests Lead To Ethiopia Declaring A State Of Emergency


A state of emergency went into effect this week in Ethiopia. Authorities declared it as they try to manage anti-government protests. The crackdown on a year of protests has drawn statements of concern from around the world, and that includes statements by Germany's leader, Angela Merkel, who just visited Ethiopia. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports on how the protests recently intensified.

OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: A deadly stampede at a religious thanksgiving festival turned opposition protest in Ethiopia's restive Oromia region 10 days ago was a turning point. Protests had spread within the majority Oromo and Amhara communities, who make up 60 percent of Ethiopia's population. They claim they're politically and economically marginalized and are demanding more land rights. Attacks on foreign-owned commercial interests last week followed the October 3 flare up.

Cement, cut flowers and fruit factories were among the businesses targeted, damaging Ethiopia's reputation as an attractive economic destination and hub for investors. Information Minister Getachew Reda blames outside elements for trying to destabilize the state, so he says they're deploying the army.

GETACHEW REDA: We'll make sure our people's demands are met. This is the most important job we're going to do because no amount of coordinated efforts by Egyptians or Eritreans or Americans is going to make a difference as long as we have our people who feel content with what the government does whose demands are met.

QUIST-ARCTON: An American woman was killed when she was hit by a rock thrown by protesters last week. The U.S., the U.N. and now Chancellor Merkel have all expressed concern at the security crackdown in Ethiopia and called for restraint. Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR News, Harare. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ofeibea Quist-Arcton is an award-winning broadcaster from Ghana and is NPR's Africa Correspondent. She describes herself as a "jobbing journalist"—who's often on the hoof, reporting from somewhere.