A state of emergency has been imposed and the government accuses foreign forces of instigating unrest.
It has been hailed as an oasis of political stability and a model of growth in Africa but for the past year, Ethiopia has been in the news not because of its economic successes, but because of insecurity on its streets.
Ethiopians – mostly from the Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups – are angry about what they describe as decades of marginalisation.
They are also upset about government plans to build factories on land they consider their own. The protests have frequently grown violent, and police are accused of responding with unnecessary force.
Activists say at least 450 people have been killed. For the first time in 25 years, ruling party leaders have declared a six-month state of emergency.
It gives the government power to ban protests – and troops can be deployed to maintain calm.
So what now for Ethiopian unity?