Ethiopia imposes new restrictions on the sharing of war-related information.
War-hit Ethiopia has established new restrictions prohibiting media from sharing information on battlefield outcomes in the conflict against Tigrayan insurgents, a move that might result in punishment.
As rebels from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) move towards the capital, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration proclaimed a nationwide state of emergency earlier this month, marking the latest turn in a violent year-long struggle.
The increasing crisis in Africa’s second most populous country has sparked international concern, with concerned foreign nations pushing their nationals to flee.
It was “forbidden to distribute via any communication networks any military movements, battlefield outcomes” that were not officially publicized by the government, according to a new edict released late Thursday.
It stated in an apparent warning to news outlets and social media accounts that have reported on rebel claims of territorial advances that “security forces will take necessary measures on anyone who have been found to disobey” the directive.
Residents were also prohibited from “using various types of media platforms to assist directly or indirectly the terrorist group” — a reference to the TPLF — and were cautioned that disobeying the directive would result in unspecified penalties.
The authorities can conscript citizens who hold firearms or suspend any media outlets suspected of “providing moral support directly or indirectly” to the TPLF under the state of emergency declared on November 2.
The current directive also prohibits anybody from asking “for a transitional government,” just days after the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), a key opposition organization, released a statement calling for a halt to the conflict and the establishment of an interim administration to enable discussion.
“All parties will begin negotiations on the formation of an all-inclusive transitional government during the interim administration’s term, which will run for 18 months. No key stakeholder will be left out of these discussions “On Wednesday, the OFC released a statement.
Ethiopia’s war began in November 2020, when Abiy Ahmed, the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner, dispatched forces to Tigray to depose the ruling party, the TPLF.
He said the move was in response to TPLF raids on federal army installations and promised a quick triumph, but the rebels had retaken most of Tigray, including the capital Mekele, by late June.
Since then, the TPLF has advanced into the neighboring Amhara and Afar areas, claiming control of a town within 220 kilometers (135 miles) from Addis Ababa this week.
Abiy, a former military lieutenant-colonel, was reported to have arrived on Wednesday by state media. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.