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Ethiopian Lawmakers Approve Lifting State of Emergency

FILE - Ethiopian military parade with national flags attached to their rifles at a rally organized by local authorities to show support for the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF), at Meskel square, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Nov. 7, 2021.

Ethiopian lawmakers have voted (Tuesday) for an early end to the state of emergency declared in November as Tigray forces moved toward the capital.

The Ethiopian parliament, also called the House of People’s Representatives, has voted to end the country’s state of emergency.

Initially, Ethiopia declared the state of emergency for six months. But the parliament voted Tuesday to end it after three months, with lawmakers saying the security situation in the country has improved, and that the state of emergency rule had diminished the image of the country internationally.

Some members of parliament opposed the decision. They argued that forces of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, or TPLF, are still fighting Ethiopian army forces in the Afar region, and are allegedly preparing to launch another attack against the Amhara region.

But a government representative in parliament said it is now possible to control any threat through a regular law enforcement process.

Ethiopia declared the six-month state of emergency at the beginning of November as TPLF forces moved within 200 kilometers of the capital. The TPLF says its forces eventually retreated to pave the way for peace negotiations. The Ethiopian government says they were pushed back by force.

In any case, rights groups accuse the government of using the state of emergency to round up large numbers of civilians in Addis Ababa, most of them ethnic Tigrayans.

In November, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission said it was alarmed at the way Ethiopian police were targeting alleged suspects and set up a panel to investigate.

According to state run media outlets, the investigators have been ordered to finish their work within a month and submit their findings to the commission.

The ministry of justice has also been told to deal with the remaining state of emergency-related cases through the regular judicial process.