Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, has declared a six-month nationwide state of emergency, saying that months of unrest threatened the nation’s stability, a report said on Monday.

Rights groups said more than 500 people had been killed in protests in the Oromiya region since 2015.

It said that the protest began when disagreement over a development scheme for the capital turned into broader 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. Vital infrastructure, businesses, health and education centres, as well as government offices, and courts have been destroyed,” Hailemariam said.

He also repeated earlier promises of reform and plans for dialogue with the opposition.

According to the report, the state of emergency was effective from October 8.

The violence in Oromiya has put a shadow over a nation where a state-led industrial drive has created one of Africa’s fastest growing economies.

By Lawrence Micheals

An incurable optimist, a writer, poet, a technopreneur in the making, a resource personnel, an event planner who is technically gifted and clinical when it matters.

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