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Tigray capital reconnected to Ethiopia power grid after year-long blackout

Tigray capital reconnected to Ethiopia power grid after year-long blackout
FILE- A Moroccan woman poses in her makeshift home late 18 May 2004 in a shantytown of Casablanca   -  
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The capital of Tigray, Mekele, has been reconnected to the national power grid after more than a year of being cut off due to the war in this northern region of Ethiopia, the national electricity company announced Tuesday (November 6) evening.

The announcement comes just over a month after the signing of a peace agreement on November 2 between the Ethiopian federal government and Tigrayan rebels, aimed at ending two years of devastating conflict.

"The electricity control centre in the town of Mekele, which had been disconnected from the national power grid for more than a year due to the war in northern Ethiopia, has been reconnected," the state-owned Electricity of Ethiopia announced in a statement.

"The line has been connected to the national grid after the repair work was completed," it said.

Access and communications in parts of northern Ethiopia, including Tigray, are restricted or prohibited, making it impossible to independently verify the situation on the ground.

Tigrayan officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Tigray, Ethiopia's northernmost region and home to six million people, has been deprived of many basic services (electricity, telecommunications, banks, fuel, etc.) for over a year since the start of a conflict between the federal government led by the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and regional authorities from the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).

- Rebel withdrawal -

The fighting began in November 2020, when Abiy Ahmed sent the federal army to arrest the region's leaders who had been challenging his authority for months and whom he accused of attacking federal military bases.

In a question-and-answer session with members of parliament on November 15, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said the authorities had begun to restore telecommunications and electricity to some areas affected by the conflict.

The provisions of the agreement - which does not explicitly include the restoration of electricity and telecommunications - are gradually being implemented.

The fighting has stopped. The rebels said on Saturday that they had "disengaged" 65% of their fighters from the front lines and "started to collect (their) heavy weapons and gather them in one place".

"In terms of implementing the agreement, we have taken a step forward," said Tigrayan commander Tadesse Worede on Saturday.

The rebels, however, are upset about the continued presence of the Eritrean army and security forces and militias from Ethiopia's Amhara region, which has supported the federal army in the conflict.

In recent weeks, tiger authorities have regularly reported abuses against civilians in Tigray, including by troops from Eritrea, whose authorities did not participate in the Pretoria negotiations, and by Amhara forces.

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