Ethiopia’s Council of Ministers has declared a three-month state of emergency for the country, effective immediately.
The decision was announced on state media outlets Friday, a day after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced he is resigning.
A government statement said the state of emergency was declared to “protect the constitutional order and to protect peace and security.” The statement also said that recent ethnic-based violence, killings and destruction of properties were among the reasons behind the decision.
Ethiopia has witnessed waves of anti-government protests over the past few years, stoked by demands for free and fair elections and a more equal distribution of power among the country’s ethnic groups. The ruling EPRDF coalition controls all the seats in parliament.
In an effort to ease tensions, the government this week released more than 700 prisoners arrested during the protests and a previous state of emergency. Those released included several prominent opposition leaders and well-known journalist Eskinder Nega, a critic of the government.
Hailemariam, 52, has served as prime minister since September 2012. Speaking on state television Thursday, he said he is stepping down “to be part of the solution and for the success of the reforms and the solutions we have put in place.”
His resignation must be confirmed by parliament.