Ethiopia ends a 5-month social media ban

Ethiopia has lifted Internet restrictions imposed in February 2023 due to anti-government protests brought on by conflicts within the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC).

Here’s what happened: When three church leaders proclaimed themselves archbishops and established their governing body in January 2023, protests erupted in the Oromiya region. While some protesters criticised their action, others backed it.

The Ethiopian state has long had close ties with the Orthodox Church — more than 40% of its citizens are members.

As at February 10, the church reported that over 30 people had been killed, accusing the Ethiopian government of “meddling” in its internal affairs even after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed asked his ministers to stay out of the dispute.

Following the ban, human rights organisations criticised the decision. In March 2023, Amnesty International said the restriction blatantly violated people’s rights to freedom of expression and access to information.

A local Chief Security Officer (CSO), Center for the Advancement of Rights and Democracy (CARD), claimed last week that Ethiopia suffered a staggering economic loss of more than $140 million due to the five-month Internet ban.

Sidebar Alert: In June 2023, Senegal censored access to social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, YouTube, and Telegram in response to a widespread protest over the sentencing of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko.


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