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An amendment to the country’s electoral proclamation will allow the relicensing of revoked political parties, paving the way to regaining legal recognition for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

On May 31, 2024, the Council of Ministers disclosed that it had decided to permit the re-licensure of debarred political parties – a move it said is “needed…to allow them to become peaceful political forces and contribute to the democratization process.”

“The Council has deliberated on the Ethiopian Electoral, Political Parties Registration, and Elections Code of Conduct Proclamation. The existing proclamation has no provisions regarding how to treat political parties who have been outside the legal and peaceful political framework and want to engage in legal and peaceful activities,” reads a statement from the Council headed by the Prime Minister.

Following the announcement, Getachew Reda, president of the Tigray Interim Administration, tweeted that “the resolution of the Council of Ministers is one step in the right direction in consolidating peace.”

After Parliament designated TPLF as a terrorist organization amid the northern war in 2021, the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) revoked its license and stripped the party of legal recognition. The Board cited TPLF’s involvement in acts of violence, which is against provisions stipulated in the proclamation.

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Lawmakers rescinded the terrorist label following the signing of the Pretoria agreement and the end of the conflict in late 2022. Party officials subsequently requested the NEBE to re-grant its license but Birtukan Mideksa, former head of the Board, rejected the request in 2023. The Board cited there are no legal provisions that would allow re-licensing for a debarred party.

The rejection had been cause for friction, with some party officials warning “there would be another war if TPLF is denied relicensing.”

TPLF, which ruled Ethiopia for nearly three decades and continues to administer the Tigray regional government, has remained an active political party without legal recognition from the Board for the last few years. Party heads have previously expressed that failing to grant TPLF legal recognition would reverse gains from the peace deal.

The Board is expected to relicense TPLF following the amendment to the proclamation. However, it is unclear whether the amendment will also apply to armed groups in active conflict with the federal government.

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