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EU envoy says 'cautiously optimistic' about Ethiopia ceasefire

A soldier from the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) looks on in Hayk, Ethiopia, on December 13, 2021   -  
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A European Union representative for the Horn of Africa said Friday she was "cautiously optimistic" that Ethiopia's state of emergency will be lifted by parliament in the near future.

The state of emergency was imposed in early November as Tigrayan forces fighting Ethiopian and allied forces moved closer to the capital, Addis Ababa.

At the end of December and into January, they withdrew back into the northern Tigray region after an offensive by federal forces and their allies.

Annette Weber, the EU's special representative for the Horn of Africa, said she had spoken to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed about lawmakers ending the state of emergency.

"I am cautiously optimistic, speaking to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, that there will be a decision by the parliament to take the state of emergency away in the near future," she said. "Of course that is something we were hoping for and think that it can happen very soon."

Ethiopia's war, which began in November 2020, has killed an estimated tens of thousands of people and displaced millions.

Approaching negotiations between Ethiopia's government and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), which dominated the country's repressive government before Abiy took office, has been a challenge in part because the government declared the TPLF a terrorist group after the war began.

On the designation of the TPLF and Oromia Liberation Army (OLA) as terrorist organizations, Weber expressed optimism that the two organizations might be delisted.

After that, engagement with the TPLF might be possible, in order to find a path towards a "cessation of hostility and cease-fire," she added.

Weber said there was "hope for peace" but work needed to continue.

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