US Department of Defense

The United States says it “strongly disagrees” with Ethiopia’s new state of emergency, saying the answer to the country’s sometimes violent unrest is “greater freedom, not less.”

The statement by the U.S. Embassy comes a day after the East African nation announced its latest months-long state of emergency amid the worst anti-government protests in a quarter-century.

Ethiopia’s government in recent weeks had released more than 6,500 detained opposition figures and others after the prime minister in an unexpected announcement in January said he wanted to “widen the democratic space for all.”

But on Thursday the prime minister announced he had submitted his letter of resignation, saying he hoped it would help planned reforms succeed.

Amid the new political uncertainty, the U.S. statement warns that the state of emergency “undermines recent positive steps toward creating a more inclusive political space.”

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