The flow of opposition reports about unrest has already started to dwindle
The government says diplomats are not allowed to travel more than 40km (25 miles) from the capital, Addis Ababa, without permission, and say it is for their own safety.
But the rights group Reprieve told The Independent there are serious concerns this could limit the access Britons have to consular services. They raised the case of one UK citizen, father-of-three Andy Tsege, who is on Ethiopia’s death row and held at a jail some way outside the capital.
“Andy’s family in London, who cannot contact him, are sick with worry,” said Maya Foa, a director at Reprieve. “Amid this crisis, it’s shocking that the UK continues to rely on Ethiopia’s vague, broken promises of regular consular access and a lawyer for Andy. Boris Johnson must urgently call for Andy to be returned home to his partner and kids in Britain.”
Ethiopia is a key strategic ally for the US and European countries in the fight against Somalia’s Islamist insurgency, al-Shabaab, and Addis Ababa is the home of the African Union.
The global importance of the country’s stability has meant Western governments turning a blind eye to its authoritarian leadership. In June, the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front cut off nationwide access to social media – on the grounds of preventing exam result leaks.
The new ban on internet services has already made a noticeable impact on the flow of reports of unrest coming out of the country via on-the-ground activists.
Ethiopian state media reported that 1,000 protesters had been arrested in the central Oromia town of Sebeta since the state of emergency was declared on 8 October, and ahead of an investment conference in the town which began on Monday.
Festival goers flee during a deadly stampede in Bishoftu, on October 2, 2016 (AFP/Getty Images)
FBC said those detained were suspected of damaging property, but there was little in the way of opposition reports to give the other side of the story.
The emergency rules include a ban on using social media to contact “outside forces”, and Ethiopians risk jail if they communicate with any “anti-peace groups designated as terrorist”.
Finally, the rules stipulate a curfew of 6pm to 6am in which members of the public may not visit factories, farms and government institutions, which have come under attack in recent weeks.