Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn declared a six-month nationwide state of emergency on Sunday, saying months of unrest threatened the nation's stability.
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.
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