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Ethiopia sets up Tigray interim government under peace deal

March 23, 2023

The Ethiopian government has appointed an interim administration for Tigray after a peace deal that ended a brutal two-year conflict. A TPLF leader was chosen just one day after his party was removed from a terror list.

Getachew Reda
Getachew Reda is set to head the new interim administration in TigrayImage: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP

The office of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Thursday said an interim administration for the northern region of Tigray had been established.

The development is a key step in the implementation of a peace agreement to end a conflict that the United Nations estimates to have claimed up to half a million lives.

How the peace deal is being implemented

The setting up a temporary administration in the region was part of a  peace pact signed in South Africa in November between Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) and the federal government.

The upper chamber of Ethiopia's parliament established the "inclusive" interim body to run the region until elections are held there, to be helmed by Getachew Reda.

Ethiopia's parliament on Wednesday removed the TPLF from the country's list of terrorist groups — another of the main provisions of the peace deal.

The TPLF — which once dominated the federal government — was placed on the East African country's terror list in May 2021 after the outbreak of the conflict, alongside another rebel group, the Oromo Liberation Army.

Getachew Reda served as an adviser to TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael during the civil war and was the group's public face — notably signing the African Union-brokered agreement in the South African city of Pretoria.

He was communications minister in the federal government under Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who governed from 2012 to 2018.

What happened during the conflict?

The conflict flared in November 2020 when Ethiopia accused the TPLF of starting hostilities by attacking an army base in Tigray. The TPLF accused the federal government of carrying out a pre-emptive strike.

The war pitted the Ethiopian federal army and its regional allies, as well as the Eritrean military, against forces loyal to the TPLF.

The TPLF's forces were beaten back by those forces loyal to Abiy after it briefly came close to marching on the capital, Addis Ababa.

However, it agreed to disarm in return for the end of a blockade of Tigray, which was largely isolated from the outside world during the war.

Tigray — a region of some six million people — had faced dire shortages of food, fuel, cash and medicines, but there has been some resumption of basic services and aid deliveries since the agreement. However, access to the region is still restricted and the lack of an interim government has hampered aid efforts in the region.

During the war, Washington was outspoken in its criticism of alleged atrocities by Ethiopian forces and their allies from both Eritrea and the Amhara region.

rc/es (AFP, Reuters)