The world will have to wait a little longer to know whether Ethiopia will change the designation of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) as advised by the international community to move towards a peace process.
The TPLF were listed as a terrorist group by the government in February.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office responded to calls to lift the terrorist label on TPLF and the PM’s spokeswoman Billene Seyoum told journalists that the decision cannot be made by a government that is technically in transition.
She said the fate of the proscribed Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) lies with the new administration to be formed following elections last June.
That means that a decision to unban TPLF could come in November at the earliest, when PM Abiy’s Prosperity Party forms its first government.
“The Ethiopian parliament is currently in recess, and such a process could only be tabled and addressed when the new government is formed," Billene said.
The Prosperity Party, formed in December 2019, swept most of the seats available when Ethiopia held its much-delayed national elections in June.
According to Addis Ababa, there are efforts by neighbouring and other African countries as well as by concerned actors who invested on Ethiopia's stability and growth for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in northern part of the country.
“These efforts are seen positively by the Ethiopian government and as an extension of goodwill and are being reviewed,” Ms Billene added.
On August 26, Kenya, which is currently a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, proposed what it called an African Union position: To have TPLF re-listed as a legal political movement in exchange for permanent ceasefire, and to accept dialogue.
Dr Martin Kimani, Kenya’s Permanent Representative to the UN gave the position of the A3+1, a coalition of African (Niger, Tunisia and Kenya) and the Caribbean (St Vincent and the Grenadines) countries at the Council on the need for practical action to put an end to Tigray conflict.
“Parliament should prepare to lift this designation to allow for direct contact and negotiation with armed actors opposing the government. The resolution to this crisis requires that we undertake a mediation of the deep divides as part of an Ethiopian-owned process supported by the available Peace and Security Architecture and practices especially those of the African Union."
Addis Ababa has repeatedly ruled out dialogue with TPLF, which is fighting Ethiopian army and its allied regional and Eritrean forces in the Tigray, Amhara and Afar regions.
Ethiopia is due to launch a national dialogue later this month. However, the dialogue will only involve the over 50 legal political parties and not those designated terror groups, TPLF and the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) which also is fighting against the government in larger parts of the vast Oromia region.
Since conflict in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region broke out in November last year, tens of thousands of people have died and millions displaced.