Addis Abeba – In his address responding to questions raised by the House of Peoples’ Representatives (HoPR) at the ongoing 4th regular session, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed told lawmakers that the law they passed designating the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) as a “terrorist organization” does not prohibit negotiations with “terrorist organization.”
“The bill you passed doesn’t say ‘don’t negotiation with terrorists'” PM Abiy said addressing one of the long-running controversies after the federal government announced to engage in peace talks with the TPLF, the party administering the Tigray regional state.
It was on 01 May 2021 that the Council of Ministers issued a resolution categorizing “Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and Shene as terrorist organizations.”
“The crimes that these entities have committed and perpetrated are acts of terrorism. It is easy to see that these activities fully comply with the definition of terrorism under Article 3 of Proclamation No. 1176/2020 on the Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism Crimes. Instead of individually holding accountable members and supporters of these organizations for their terrorist activities, designating the organizations as terrorist organizations according to the law is deemed more practical to better control and prevent acts of terrorism,” The Council of Ministers said.
Subsequently, on 06 May, members of the House of Peoples Representatives during the 6th year, 13th regular session of the Parliament, had unanimously approved the resolution passed by the Council of Ministers and designated the “TPLF and Shene as terrorist organizations.” The bill was abstained by “one vote” and approved by “majority vote”, according to the HoPR.
However, the international community has been asking the Ethiopian government to lift these designations in order to pave the way for peaceful resolution of Ethiopia’s 15 month civil war. During the UNSC open briefing on Tigray held on August 26 last year, SC member states commonly known as A-3+1 said Ethiopia’s incoming parliament “should prepare to lift” terrorist designation of “armed actors” to allow for direct contact and negotiation with armed actors opposing the government.
In February this year, the ruling Prosperity Party (PP) said Ethiopia’s planned national dialogue would not include negotiating with groups that were “designated as terrorist by the parliament.”
In his response today, PM Abiy clarified that that the bill designating the TPLF as a “terrorist organization” prohibits collaborations with the party, including arming and providing support in various forms, and that the federal government was engaged in neither of the two. Negotiation to being lasting peace is not bad and should be supported, he added.
The 01 May resolution by the Council of Ministers, which paved ways for the law makers to enact the bill designating the “TPLF and Shene as terrorist organizations” stated that, :in accordance with Article 3 of Proclamation No. 1176/2020 on the Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism Crimes, the decision will become applicable to organizations and individuals who collaborate, have links with or relate to the ideas and actions of the designated terrorist organizations and others who have engaged in similar activities.”
According to the AU-led peace talks held in Pretoria and the subsequent Permanent Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) signed between the federal government and representative of the Tigray regional state, as part of the implementation of the CoHA the federal government will “facilitate the lifting of the terrorist designation of the TPLF by the House of People’s Representatives.” AS