TPLF begin demobilizing in Ethiopia: reports
TPLF fighters in Ethiopia's northern Tigrai region begin demobilizing on Friday.
Rebel fighters in Ethiopia's northern Tigrai region began demobilizing on Friday, marking a new stage in the implementation of a peace deal signed by the federal government and regional authorities, according to media outlets close to both sides.
Before a surprise truce in November last year, the two-year war in Africa's second most populous country killed untold numbers of civilians and forced about two million people from their homes.
According to Tigrai TV, the Tigray region's official channel, the demobilization of the Tigray Defence Forces was "set to launch" on Friday afternoon.
According to the African Union (AU) mission overseeing the implementation of the peace agreement, fighters will begin to be transferred to designated sites.
"The first round of the TPLF (Tigray People's Liberation Front) ex-combatants reintegration and rehabilitation program was officially launched," according to Fana Broadcasting Corporate, a media outlet close to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's party.
The launch was attended by members of the AU mission in the suburbs of Tigray's regional capital Mekele, according to the broadcaster.
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Brigadier General Derbe Mekuria, deputy head of the federal government's National Rehabilitation Commission, urged Tigrayan fighters to "work to ensure lasting peace."
"Militants, seize the advantage of this peace to change your own lives and participate in the development of the region and Ethiopia at large," Mekuria was quoted as saying by Fana.
Tigray representative Brigadier General Megbey Haile also called for peace. "When you complete the rehabilitation program and reintegrate into the society, you must be a force for development and peace," he was quoted as saying.
The fighting in Tigray has ceased since the unexpected signing of the peace agreement on November 2. Forces from neighboring Eritrea, which had backed the Ethiopian army, have mostly left Tigray, though their presence in some border areas has been reported.
Tigrayan forces began surrendering heavy weapons in January, and the process is still ongoing. However, forces from the neighboring Amhara region, which also supported the federal forces, continue to control the western part of Tigray.
According to the agreement, disarmament would take place concurrently with the departure of Eritrean and Amhara troops from Tigray. The AU did not respond to AFP's questions.
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