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JOHANNESBURG, March 19 (Reuters) - The board of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) has approved Ethiopia's candidacy to its global standard on transparent management of oil, gas and mineral resources, the organisation said on Wednesday.
As a candidate, the East African country has three years to achieve compliance with the EITI standard, which is a global initiative to encourage governments to better manage natural resource revenues.
At least one international rights group, New York-based Human Rights Watch, had asked the EITI board to reject Ethiopia's bid for membership, saying the government needed to lift persisting restrictions on civil society.
"In its discussions, the EITI Board stressed the importance of ensuring civil society engagement in Ethiopia's efforts to comply with the EITI Standard," the Oslo-based group said in a statement on its web site.
It added that some members of the board argued that Ethiopia's application should not be accepted, and requested that their reservations be noted.
An earlier effort by Ethiopia to join the transparency group was rebuffed in 2010.
(Reporting By Pascal Fletcher; Editing by David Dolan)