The Ethiopian government said Thursday it has appointed a senior official in the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) as head of an interim government for Tigray after a peace deal ended a brutal two-year conflict.
The announcement comes just a day after parliament removed the TPLF from an official list of terrorist organisations, a move it said would help bolster the November 2022 agreement between the rebels and the federal government.
“Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has appointed Getachew Reda as president of the Tigray region’s interim administration,” Abiy’s office said in a statement posted on Twitter.
There was no immediate response to the announcement from the TPLF or Getachew himself.
The formation of a transitional government for Ethiopia’s northernmost region and the delisting of the TPLF as a terrorist group were among the key provisions of the peace deal signed in South Africa’s capital Pretoria.
The agreement had stipulated the establishment of an “inclusive” interim regional administration until elections can be held.
The TPLF, which once dominated Ethiopian politics, had been officially designated a terrorist organisation in May 2021, six months after the Tigray war began.
Public face of TPLF
Getachew, adviser to TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael, also once served as communications minister in the federal government under prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn who governed from 2012 to 2018.
The public face of the TPLF, Getachew signed the African Union-brokered deal in Pretoria along with Abiy’s national security adviser Redwan Hussein.
During the conflict, the TPLF briefly came close to marching on the capital Addis Ababa but was beaten back by forces loyal to Abiy.
Under the agreement, the TPLF agreed to disarm in return for the restoration of access to Tigray, which was largely cut off from the outside world during the war.
Since then, there has been some resumption of basic services and aid deliveries to Tigray, which has faced dire shortages of food, fuel, cash and medicines.
Access to the region of six million people remains restricted, and it is impossible to verify independently the situation on the ground.
The fighting has killed untold numbers of civilians, displaced more than two million and left millions more in need of humanitarian aid.
Estimates of casualties vary widely, with the United States saying that as many as half a million people have died while Olusegun Obasanjo, the African Union’s envoy to the region, has said it could be up to 600,000.
The war tarnished the reputation of Abiy, a Nobel Peace laureate, with the United States accusing troops from Ethiopia and its ally Eritrea of committing crimes against humanity during the conflict.
Washington on Monday accused all parties to the conflict of committing war crimes but singled out Ethiopian, Eritrean and regional Amhara forces for crimes against humanity, without mentioning the TPLF.
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