(AFP)―Ethiopia’s parliament on Thursday removed three groups from the country’s list of “terrorist” organizations in a bid to mend fences with the political opposition, state media reported.
Rights groups have long accused Ethiopia of using allegations of involvement with the armed anti-government groups Ginbot 7, Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) as a pretext to jail journalists and opposition politicians.
Since taking office in April, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has released imprisoned dissidents and prioritized reconciling with the country’s various opposition groups.
In May, he ordered the release of top Ginbot 7 official Andargachew Tsige, prompting the group’s announcement the following month that it would stop armed attacks.
And earlier this week, a splinter group of the OLF, the United Oromo Liberation Front, agreed “to engage in a peaceful struggle,” Ethiopia’s government communications office said in a statement.
Parliament then moved to formally lift the terrorist designations from the three groups, i.e., Ginbot 7, OLF and ONLF, all of which had been the targets of bloody counterinsurgency operations by Ethiopian security forces.
“The parliament passed the resolution unanimously,” state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate reported.
There was no immediate comment from the OLF or ONLF.
A 42-year-old former army officer and cabinet minister, Abiy is pushing an aggressive reform agenda.
He has announced the partial liberalization of the economy and pursued rapprochement with neighbor and foe Eritrea, where relations have been stalemated since a two-year border conflict ended in 2000.
The moves represent stark departures in policy for the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) which, together with its allies, controls every seat in parliament and has long been accused of persecuting dissenters.
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- Ethiopia’s New Leader Raises Hopes. Now Comes the Hard Part. ― The New York Times