Ethiopia declared a nationwide state of emergency on Tuesday and ordered residents of Addis Ababa to prepare to defend their neighborhoods amid fears that Tigrayan rebels were heading for the capital.
The measures came after several days of reported advances by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) rebel group, which is locked in a brutal year-long war against Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government.
“The state of emergency is aimed to protect civilians from atrocities being committed by the terrorist TPLF group in several parts of the country,” state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate reported.
Possible restrictions include a curfew, road closures and searches of “anyone suspected of collaborating with terror groups,” Fana said.
The measure also allows the authorities to conscript “any military-age citizen who has weapons” or suspend any media outlets believed to be “giving moral support directly or indirectly” to the TPLF, Fana said.
Lawmakers were expected to approve the state of emergency within 24 hours, it added.
Earlier Tuesday, officials in Addis Ababa announced new security measures for the city’s five million residents, requiring that all firearms be registered within two days.
“All residents must be organized by blocks and neighborhoods to protect peace and security in their home area in coordination with security forces, who will coordinate activities with community police and law enforcers,” said Kenea Yadeta, chief of the city’s Peace and Security Administration Bureau.
He also said young residents would be recruited to work with law enforcement, and that “all sections of society” must cooperate with efforts to increase vigilance, such as landlords and hotel owners checking the IDs of tenants and guests.