The lower house of Ethiopian parliament has approved imposing a state of emergency in the country in a last ditch effort to protect the population from the advancing rebels of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray (PNLF), Fana Broadcasting Corporation reported on Thursday.
On Tuesday, the Council of Ministers of Ethiopia declared a nationwide state of emergency starting on November 2, but the measure required a parliamentary approval to become effective.
The Ethiopian House of People’s Representatives has now approved the move and appointed the parliamentary observers of the emergency regime. According to the Ethiopian News Agency, the emergency regime will last for six months.
The Ethiopian government and the TPLF rebels, which dominated the political life of Ethiopia for almost three decades, have been locked in conflict over control of the north of the country since November 2020, when the central authorities accused the TPLF of attacking a military base. The Ethiopian government launched an operation in Tigray with the support of neighboring Eritrea.
In the spring of 2021, Ethiopian authorities announced the withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Tigray. In June, the rebels took control of the administrative center of the region, Mekelle City after which the government declared an unconditional ceasefire. However, the rebels soon launched a new offensive, taking control of part of Tigray and invading the Amhara Region.
The rebels have gained control of the town of Kombolcha, less than 370 kilometers (230 miles) north of the capital of Addis Ababa, on October 31 and are moving southward. This was one of the factors prompting Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to declare a state of emergency in Ethiopia as the rebels gradually advance toward the capital.