Ethiopia Reaches out to ONLF amid a peaceful solution to the Ogaden conflict

By Ahmed Abdi-NAIROBI, Kenya, (Mareeg Ethiopia reached out ONLF to pursue a peaceful solution to the Ogaden conflict, according to an official statement released by the ONLF group last week.

ONLF has been fighting to help Ogadenia become a sovereign nation since 1984 and waged a long, bloody war against Ethiopia’s military and security forces.

The re-open of the peace talks with the ONLF will bring an end to a half-century conflict as many factions previously involved in this Eastern Africa’s long-standing conflict which has ravaged Ethiopia’s Ogaden region.

“We have agreed to meet each other in Kenya as part of the peace talks and will continue doing so,” said ONLF in a statement published on its official website, Ogaden News Agency (ONA).

Last week, Kenya dispatched a delegation led by a former State Minister for Defense and member of parliament representing Garissa County, Mohamed Yusuf Haji to meet ONLF executive officials in Sweden to pave the way for the talks, according to local reports.

On Monday, Officials from ONLF group held a meeting with the Somali Ogaden Communities in North America to hear their recommendations on the intended talks with the current Ethiopian government.

The Human Rights Groups, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said the Ethiopian military have committed human rights violations against Somalis in the Ogaden, which borders Somalia, Kenya and Djibouti. The government has always denied the allegations.

Peace talks between Ethiopia and the ONLF stalled in October 2012 and many hope the upcoming peace talk with the ONLF will bring an end to a half-century conflict as both sides are willing to compromise after two decades of bitter fighting.

On January 09, 2018, Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) called on the International Community, the European Union and the United States to stand up for the Somalis in Ogaden for their legitimate grievances in terms of serious political, economic and humanitarians crisis.

In its press release, UNPO brought to the International Community’s attention to a forgotten region and its 7-10 million people including to the notorious detention camp better known as ‘Ogaden jail’, which is home to several thousand men and women inmates including political prisoners.

Several hours of fighting around Shilabo district in the Korahey Province near a Chinese-run oil field, about 150 km from the Somali regional capital of Jijiga have left at least 30 Ethiopian combatants dead.

Among of them were the Ethiopian National Defense Forces that have controlled the region on the border with Somalia, according to Ethiopian Satellite Television and Radio (ESAT).

The officials of the Ogaden Regional Government feel that the uprising of the Oromia and Amhara regional states were helped the rebel to wage a large-scale offensive against the regular army— Amhara and Oromo are the two largest ethnic groups in the country.

When TPLF took over the central government in 1991 it formed Federalism and new charter in which the people in the Somali territory applied to article 39 of the Ethiopian Constitution, which defines the right of ethnocultural communities to self-determination, including the right to establish a regional state or independent state.

In 1994, Ogaden Parliament held their first vote for independence, where 84% of voters said they wanted ‘Ogadenia’ to be an independent state. Since then, Ogaden relations with the TPLF-EPRDF soured.

Ogaden was part of Greater Somalia until the British annexed to Ethiopia on November 29, 1954. Since then the people of the Somali territory waged an armed struggle against its occupation.

The government failed to crush Ogaden rebellion militarily since 1994 and relied on harsh policies pursued by Ethiopia’s military several attempts to end the Ogaden conflict politically provided fruitless.

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