Ethiopian lawmakers remove Tigray group from terror list

March 22, 2023 GMT
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FILE - Fighters loyal to the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) walk along a street in the town of Hawzen, then controlled by the group, in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia on May 7, 2021. Ethiopian lawmakers on Wednesday, March 22, 2023 have removed the TPLF from the country's list of designated terror groups more than four months after a peace agreement ended a conflict that killed hundreds of thousands of people. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)
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FILE - Fighters loyal to the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) walk along a street in the town of Hawzen, then controlled by the group, in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia on May 7, 2021. Ethiopian lawmakers on Wednesday, March 22, 2023 have removed the TPLF from the country's list of designated terror groups more than four months after a peace agreement ended a conflict that killed hundreds of thousands of people. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Ethiopian lawmakers have removed the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front from the country’s list of designated terror groups more than four months after a peace agreement ended a conflict that killed hundreds of thousands of people.

Wednesday’s decision highlights the improving relations between federal officials and Tigray regional ones and moves the region closer to the establishment of an interim government. The TPLF dominated Ethiopian politics for close to three decades before Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in 2018. The Tigray conflict began in late 2020.

Most of Ethiopia’s 547 lawmakers voted to remove the TPLF from the terror list, with 61 objections and five abstentions, according to the state-run Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation.

The TPLF was added to the list in May 2012.

Kindeya Gebrehiwot, a senior TPLF official, told The Associated Press the removal will be a “very good step in moving the peace agreement forward.”

Ethiopia accused the TPLF of starting the conflict by attacking an army base in Tigray, while the TPLF accused the federal government of preparing to strike first.

The peace agreement signed in November has led to the return of communications, banking and other basic services cut to the Tigray region of more than 5 million people. Ethiopia now faces a post-conflict reconstruction bill of $20 billion.

Earlier this week, the United States said it had determined that all sides in the conflict committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. Ethiopia’s foreign ministry in a statement criticized the U.S. statement as “selective” and “inflammatory.”