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Ethiopia’s parliament has unanimously approved 21 new appointees, the prime minister said Tuesday. He said the new ministers were picked for competence and commitment rather than “party loyalty."
The appointees include a new minister of foreign affairs, Workneh Gebeyehu, who replaces Tedros Adhanom, a former health minister who has been one of Ethiopia’s most recognizable public figures in recent years. Adhanom is currently a candidate vying to be the next World Health Organization’s chief.
Communications Minister and government spokesman Getachew Reda was ousted and replaced by Negeri Lencho, the head of the journalism and communications college at Addis Ababa University.
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Ethiopia's security forces have freed about 2,000 people detained under a state of emergency on suspicion of being involved in the recent violence which swept through parts of the country, the state-linked Fana Broadcasting Corporate has reported.
The group had been released after "receiving education and counselling service," it quoted Defence Minister Siraj Fegessa as saying.
The minister did not say how many people are still in detention.
On 20 October, the BBC reported that more than 2,600 people had been arrested under the state of emergency, which was imposed on 9 October after a wave of anti-government protests.
Opposition groups have been demanding greater political freedom in a country ruled by the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front since 1991.
More than 1,500 weapons had also been recovered by the security forces, FBC reported.
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In Ethiopia, at least 1,000 suspects have been arrested over the violence in Sebeta town near the capital, Addis Ababa, the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate has reported.
Only 40 to 50 suspects were natives of the town, while the majority were from other parts of Oromia region, the mayor, Ararsa Merdasa, is quoted as saying.
Ethiopia has declared a state of emergency to curb unrest in Oromia and Amhara, two regions that have seen a wave of anti-government protests since last year.
The mayor added that if there were any innocent people among the 1,000 suspects, they would be released once investigations were concluded.
Mr Ararsa said that residents had provided details of the rioters, including the crime they had committed, following public meetings.
More arrests were expected, he added.
Businessmen, who experienced massive losses after their properties were destroyed during the protests, are attending a "peace conference" in Sebata, and called for better security, FBC reports.
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Audio: What Does a State of Emergency Mean for Ethiopia?
Rights groups say more than 500 people have been killed in protests in the Oromiya region since last year, when anger over a development scheme for the capital turned into more general anti-government demonstrations over politics and human rights abuses.
The government says the death toll is inflated.
"A state of emergency has been declared because the situation posed a threat against the people of the country," Hailemariam said on state-run television.
"Vital infrastructure, businesses , health and education centers, as well as government offices, and courts have been destroyed," he said.
He also repeated earlier promises of reform and plans for dialogue with the opposition.
The state of emergency was effective from Oct.8.
The violence in Oromiya, Ethiopia's largest and most populous region which surrounds the capital Addis Ababa, and to a lesser extent in the Amhara province has put a shadow over a nation where a state-led industrial drive has created one of Africa's fastest growing economies.
But the government also faces rising international criticism and popular opposition to its authoritarian approach to development.
The unrest has also included attacks on businesses, many of the foreign-owned, including farms growing flowers for export.
Hailemariam did not elaborate on what the state of emergency would entail but said details would be announced soon.