Topics : Ethiopia on Wednesday declared a state of emergency to fight the coronavirus pandemic, which has so far infected 55 people and resulted in two deaths there. It is the first state of emergency announced under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who came to power in 2018 and won last year’s Nobel Peace Prize in part for expanding political freedoms in the authoritarian nation. “Because the coronavirus pandemic is getting worse, the Ethiopian government has decided to declare a state of emergency under Article 93 of the constitution,” Abiy said in a statement. The government has so far refrained from imposing a lockdown similar to those in effect elsewhere in the region, including in Rwanda, Uganda and Mauritius.According to the country’s constitution, under a state of emergency the Council of Ministers has “all necessary power to protect the country’s peace and sovereignty” and can suspend some “political and democratic rights”. Wednesday’s decree is likely to “beef up security operations with a greater role for the federal government, including the military,” said William Davison, Ethiopia analyst for the International Crisis Group, a conflict-prevention organization. “While this approach is understandable given the situation, it is critical that there is transparency over the government’s extra powers and that there is adequate monitoring of implementation,” Davison said. Opposition challenges moveSince reporting its first COVID-19 case on March 13, Ethiopia has closed land borders and schools, freed thousands of prisoners to ease overcrowding, sprayed main streets in the capital with disinfectant, and discouraged large gatherings. But Abiy said over the weekend that a harsher lockdown would be unrealistic given that there are “many citizens who don’t have homes” and “even those who have homes have to make ends meet daily.” Jawar Mohammed, a leading opposition politician, said Wednesday this called into question why a state of emergency was necessary.”Officials have been saying the country is too poor to stop population movement. So why do you need a state of emergency if you are not planning to impose stricter rules?” Jawar told AFP. During consultations with Abiy earlier this week, the opposition Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) voiced worries that a state of emergency would lead to human rights abuses — a well-documented problem under previous states of emergency imposed during several years of anti-government protests that swept Abiy to power. “We explained our concern that the state of emergency has been initiated several times and it has been abused to violate the rights of citizens and other political activists,” OLF chairman Dawud Ibsa told AFP.It’s also unclear how the state of emergency might affect planning for hotly-anticipated general elections in Ethiopia. The country’s electoral board announced last week that voting planned for August would need to be postponed because of the pandemic. It did not provide a timeline for when the elections would ultimately be held, and lawmakers’ constitutional mandates expire in October.Davison, with the International Crisis Group, said the state of emergency could be used “to formally postpone elections” past that deadline, though such a move risks sparking opposition backlash. “It is therefore essential that the government works with opposition parties on managing this constitutionally sensitive period and making new electoral arrangements,” Davison said. “I call upon everybody to stand in line with government bodies and others that are trying to overcome this problem,” he added, warning of “grave legal measures” against anyone who undermines the fight against the pandemic.The attorney general’s office issued a statement specifying that the state of emergency would go into effect from Wednesday and last for five months.Violators of the terms of the state of emergency face up to three years behind bars, it said, although it did not specify what constituted a violation or which rights might be suspended. It was thus not immediately clear how the state of emergency would affect day-to-day life in Ethiopia.
Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Alexander: Coping with the desolation, and silence, of empty seats The impetus was the same sequence of events that have awakened much of this society over the last several weeks and helped bring the toxicity of systemic racism and white privilege front and center. The deaths of Ahmaud Arbery (shot while jogging), Breonna Taylor (shot by police who broke down her door mistakenly and with no probable cause) and George Floyd (suffocated by a Minneapolis policeman who knelt on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds), and the resulting protests and backlash against the symbols of hate and bigotry, have forced America into an uncomfortable conversation that many of us had avoided for way too long.If the result of that conversation is that we now dig into the roots of the problem, that is a way forward.“The work we are going to engage in over the next five years is critically important,” said Renata Simril, president of LA84 – the foundation created through the financial success of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and dedicated to supporting non-profit youth sports organizations throughout the region.“Kids from poor communities have an obesity rate that is nearly two times higher than kids from affluent communities. Poor students are five times more likely to drop out of high school than students from high-income families. And Black and Latinx youth have the highest rates of stress, anxiety and depression.“We believe that equity is a social justice issue, and there are a lot of reasons why. Funding is one. Lack of enrichment programs, including sports and physical education in school, is another. Lack of volunteers, coaches and mentors. Safe passage to playgrounds. This is all a hindrance to positive engagement activities for kids, and to their connection (to) support systems that help them realize their true potential. And it’s a hindrance to their academic success in school. … When kids play, they are healthier, both physically and mentally, and do better in school. But it requires access and opportunities.”The professional organizations’ involvement will include money and time, including the participation of the teams’ players, as a complement to their current charitable activities rather than a replacement. But it can’t be just having stars showing up occasionally for meet-and-greets.Simril talked of working with organizations already entrenched in the communities, with an emphasis toward sports and educational opportunities for youths 14 to 18 – and reminding those boys and girls that there are career opportunities in sports that go beyond the field or court. They could be executives, or videographers, or someone like Blake Bolden, who was the first Black player in the National Women’s Hockey League, now is an AHL scout for the Kings and also will work with their front office on diversity and inclusion initiatives.“It’s like that famous adage – if she can see it, she can be it,” Simril said.Related Articles It is unprecedented. A coalition of Southern California’s 11 professional sports organizations, some of whom compete bitterly on the field or court and all of whom scramble for area fans’ dollars and attention, have banded together for a cause.It is noble. They recognize that by pooling their efforts and resources and going all-in with the LA84 Foundation’s Play Equity initiative, they can help make a difference in communities of color desperately in need of jobs, educational opportunities and hope.And it is ambitious. The ALLIANCE: Los Angeles, the combined effort of the Dodgers, Angels, Rams, Chargers, Lakers, Clippers, Kings, Ducks, LAFC, Galaxy and Sparks unveiled Tuesday, has given itself a five-year window to create and sustain change in those communities, through funding and attention.Will it work? Will these organizations, all of whom have their own issues with a global pandemic having ravaged the sports landscape, stay the course and maintain the commitment that was announced Tuesday? Maybe this is the best way to look at it: There is too much at stake, in Southern California and beyond, for it not to work. This collaboration can be a powerful example in other cities where sports have such an outsized profile.It is not the sole path to the end of poverty and inequality. But it’s an idea and a commitment, and more specifically one that will be monitored and tracked to gauge its progress.It’s most definitely a start.“We felt like, if not sports, then who?” said Tom Penn, president and owner of LAFC, during the virtual news conference Tuesday at which this collaboration was officially announced.“Our goal is pretty simple. It’s to unite as allies. In many cases we’re rivals, but in this case we’re allies to push against racial injustice, to take on important issues in communities of color and particularly the Black community. We expect this alliance to be a beacon and a magnet for cooperation and collaboration in Los Angeles and greater Los Angeles.” Alexander: Lakers-Blazers is not your typical No. 1 vs. No. 8 series Alexander: Lakers fans, it’s been a long wait Alexander: Baseball’s ‘unwritten rules’ need to be erased Alexander: Playoff series takes a turn Clippers weren’t expecting Will five years be enough to solve these problems. No. But the ambition seems to be that this will be more than one five-year term, and each increment of commitment that follows will bring those potential solutions closer.“I think the intent of announcing this is so we are held accountable and that we do the good work and the hard work over the long period of time,” Lakers’ chief operating officer Tim Harris said. “We’re not getting together here today to say we intend to boil the ocean. What we’re doing is getting together to say we’re gonna take a little part of the ocean and we’re going to try to boil that, and hopefully that motivates others to do the same.“It took us 400 years to get here. We’re not going to get out of this overnight. But the only way we are going to get out of this is to start taking positive baby steps.”firstname.lastname@example.org@Jim_Alexander on Twitter