Ethiopian lawmakers on Tuesday voted to lift the country’s state of emergency.

The motion in parliament faced stiff resistance but sailed through with majority vote.

The six-month state of emergency was lifted two months after Tigray rebels retreated largely from the northern regions of Amhara and Afar, where they had made incursions.

The latest development came amid reports of secret talks between the Ethiopian government and rebels for cease-fire.

The Ethiopian government has however denied starting any talks with the Tigray rebels.

Annette Weber, EU special envoy for the Horn of Africa, was quoted by Addis Standard, a local monthly magazine, as saying after a brief visit to Ethiopia over the weekend that there was discussion regarding delisting of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) as a terrorist organization.

“Regarding the designation of terrorism or the delisting, there are discussions right now, that there is a possibility – of course it goes through the parliament – there is a possibility for delisting. And of course after delisting engagement with the TPLF because that is necessary if there is an agreement on the cessation of hostility and ceasefire,” Annette was quoted as saying.

“Speaking to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed yesterday, my sense is that, what we have seen in the last couple of weeks, the changes…release of political prisoners, stopping the advance by the ENDF (Ethiopian army) towards Tigray, releasing people, mainly Tigrayans…I think there is a path that is clearly towards peace and he did speak about this,” she added.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people have been displaced over the past two weeks from localities in the northeastern region of Afar adjoining the Tigray state after the rebels launched fresh offensives and captured a number of districts.

The conflict between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray rebels started in November 2020 after the rebels attacked the army positions across Tigray, including the capital Mekele.

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