The Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice (EZEMA) and the National Movement of Amhara (NAMA) have condemned the government’s decision to delist the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) off the list of terrorist groups.
The House of Peoples’ Representatives (HPR) passed the resolution on March 22, 2023, reversing its decision, which designated the TPLF and OLF-Shene as terrorist organizations in May 2021. During the vote to delist the TPLF on Wednesday, 61 Members of Parliament (MPs) objected, while five abstained. There were 288 MPs present during the session, of which the majority supported the government’s decision to remove the TPLF from the list.
The government’s decision to remove the TPLF from the list comes four months after the federal government and the TPLF signed the Pretoria peace agreement to end the two-year war that ravaged the northern part of Ethiopia.
However, EZEMA and NAMA issued statements denouncing the government’s decision, with the two parties reaching consensus to cooperatively work on the matter.
They concluded that the TPLF is still a threat to the country and that the decision taken by the government came too early. They also said that the TPLF did not fully implement the Pretoria agreement.
“The TPLF did not fully disarm as per the Pretoria agreement, and the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) did not fully overtake the Tigray region. TPLF officials who launched the war were not held accountable. The TPLF is leading the Tigray Interim Administration exclusively. TPLF should be banned legally. The decision to delist it is giving the TPLF another chance to become a national threat again,” reads EZEMA’s statement.
NAMA further stated that it is observing signs that expose the northern part of Ethiopia to a “fourth round of war.”
Both EZEMA and NAMA are among the few opposition parties that are working with the incumbent, the Prosperity Party (PP), which won the majority of seats in the HPR in the national election last year. Apart from having MPs in the House, some leaders of EZEMA and NAMA are also given ministerial positions in Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s (PhD) cabinet. However, the two parties did not mention whether they would stop working with the incumbent or not, following the disagreement on the TPLF’s case.
Members of the opposition parties voiced their objections during the HPR’s deliberation to take TPLF off the terrorism list.
Redwan Hussein, national security advisor to the PM, justified removing the TPLF as part of the Pretoria agreement’s implementation. Regarding the disarmament of the TPLF, Redwan said, “The TPLF has handed over heavy weapons. On the subject of light weapons, all armed forces in all regional states must hand them over, not just TPLF combatants. TPLF ex-combatants will be part of the TIA police force.”
Tesfaye Beljige, who is the government whip in Parliament, also said that taking the TPLF off the list of terrorist groups was necessary because they have to be a part of the National Dialogue Commission, which is currently at preparation stage. The Minister of Justice, Gedion Timotwos (PhD), and other officials also said that taking the TPLF off the list of terrorist groups is based on the Pretoria agreement, respects the country’s constitution, and protects Ethiopia’s sovereignty and national interests.
Further, on March 23, 2023, the federal government approved Getachew Reda’s appointment to lead the Tigray Interim Administration (TIA). He is the TPFL’s spokesperson and one of the signatories to the Pretoria agreement.