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Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed addresses the members of parliament inside the House of Peoples' Representatives in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia April 19, 2018. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

(reuters_tickers)

By Maggie Fick

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Ethiopia must pursue multiparty democracy, the prime minister's chief of staff said on Sunday in what could be the latest in a series of momentous changes sweeping the country.

The country allows competing parties but all parliamentary seats are held by the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, which has maintained control in the country of 100 million people since it fought its way to power in 1991.

The ruling coalition has also presided over an economy that has grown faster per annum than any other in sub-Saharan Africa over the past decade.

But since Abiy Ahmed became prime minister in April the government has instituted reforms including releasing political prisoners, diluting state control of the economy and making peace with northern neighbour Eritrea.

Abiy was meeting national and regional parties on Sunday and his chief of staff, Fitsum Arega, said in a tweet:

"PM Abiy concluded: Given our current politics, there is no option except pursuing a multiparty democracy supported by strong institutions that respect human rights and rule of law."

He said the parties appreciated Abiy's political reforms and also wanted changes to electoral laws. The government this month lifted a ban on opposition groups that were considered terrorist groups. Elections are due in 2020. [L8N1UG1ZZ]

(Writing by Omar Mohammed; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)

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