The team will oversee the implementation of last month's peace agreement with Tigray's rebels in the first visit by a high-level federal delegation to the region in two years.
A high-level Ethiopian team has arrived in the capital of rebel-held Tigray for a first official visit following a peace deal aimed at ending a brutal two-year conflict.
The delegation visiting the Tigrayan capital Mekele will "supervise the implementation of major issues in the peace agreement" signed on November 2, an Ethiopian federal government statement said on Monday.
The team is led by House of Peoples Representatives speaker Tagesse Chafo and includes Redwan Hussein, who is the security adviser to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, as well as the ministers of justice, transport and communication and labour.
The head of Ethiopia's road infrastructure authority and the heads of Ethiopian Airlines and Ethio Telecom – Mesfin Tasew and Frehiwot Tamiru – are also present.
"The delegation is the first of its stature as a high-level federal government body heading to Mekele in two years," the statement said. "This gesture is an attestation to the peace agreement getting on the right track and progressing."
The delegation was greeted by rebel authorities, including their spokesman Getachew Reda, Tigrayan photographs showed.
The war began in November 2020 when Abiy sent troops into Tigray after accusing the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), the ruling party in the region, of attacking army bases.
Estimates of casualties vary widely, with the United States saying that as many as half a million people have died.
READ MORE: Ethiopian government, Tigray rebels sign deal on ceasefire implementation
A delegation of the Federal Government of #Ethiopia led by Speaker of House of Peoples Representatives, Hon. Tagesse Chafo has arrived in Mekelle, Capital of Tigray Regional State, to oversee the implementation of important issues in the peace deal. pic.twitter.com/DUSVge5aW8— MFA Ethiopia🇪🇹 (@mfaethiopia) December 26, 2022
The agreement signed in the South African capital Pretoria provides for the disarmament of rebel forces, the re-establishment of federal authority in Tigray and the reopening of access to the region.
The two sides on Thursday agreed to create a joint monitoring and compliance mechanism to oversee the deal and receive complaints about any abuse towards civilians.
Aid has started trickling back into Tigray since the peace deal was signed, going some way to alleviating dire shortages of food, fuel, cash and medicines.
But the region of six million is still largely without electricity and phone lines, while internet and banking services have only partly been restored.
The rebels say that two-thirds of their forces have disengaged from the front lines.
Pro-government forces – specifically troops from Eritrea to the north, and militias from the Ethiopian region of Amhara – are not mentioned in the peace deal but remain in Tigray.
READ MORE: Ethiopia: Government, Tigray rebels agree to ceasefire monitor