Breaking: Oromia Region President calls for reconciliation with OLA

Shimelis Abdissa. Photo: OBN

Addis Abeba – Addressing the 6th regular meeting of Caffee Oromia, the regional council, President Shimellis Abdissa called on armed group Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) to come to reconciliation.

“In front of this respected Caffee (regional parliament) in the name of our people and with great respect I would like to call on armed groups operating in our region, “OLF-Shane” to come to reconciliation” Shimellis said.

He, however warned “those who are unwilling to resolve the problem peacefully, we will be forced to continue the law enforcement measures.”

His remarks today came just a week after he said that he wanted to end the fighting Oromia region that has pitted federal and regional forces against rebels from the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), often referred by the government as “Shene”, for more than four years.

Shimelis said that the region, together with the federal government was pursuing twofold means to put the region back into the paths of peace and prosperity. “The first and the primary” means to end the conflict in the region is “the peaceful path,” but he offered no concrete plan on how that was to be achieved.

“There is nothing we cannot solve through peaceful means; no force should pay unnecessary scarifies,” Shimelis said, and explained that all can pursue peaceful, democratic means including through the establishment of political parties. So peaceful path this is our primary option that we are following, he said, and pleads with OLA to “come to the peaceful path; let it be enough for our people who suffered; this [fighting] is shameful, which will not be undone through historic precedence. Enough! Let them come to peaceful path. So what I would like to call on is for these forces participating in [the fighting] to come to the peaceful path. It doesn’t help anyone; it doesn’t help Ethiopia. More than anyone it is hurting the Oromo people. It is opening up the doors for others, and its bringing humiliation,” he said.

The OLA have been saying that they will negotiate in the presence of a credible third party. The group has recently published a brief political manifesto: “From Armed Struggle to the Prospect for Peace”. In it OLA stated, among others, what heir prospects for peaceful resolution of the conflict is. The manifesto said that the OLA “maintains that a lasting and sustainable solution to Ethiopia’s multifaceted and complex political problems can result only from a comprehensive political settlement that emanates from an all-inclusive political process involving all stakeholders and representative [of] political forces.”

On 09 February, OLLAA published an open letter “calling for the peaceful settlement of the conflict between the Ethiopian government and the Oromo Liberation Army,” a copy of which was delivered both to the government and the OLA, according to the group. The letter “called on both parties to use this moment as an opportunity to find a negotiated and peaceful resolution to the conflict that has ravaged Oromia over the past four years,” OLLAA said.

OLLAA’s open letter builds on growing calls for peaceful resolution of the conflict. On 05 December, a group of members of parliament representing Oromia region for the ruling Prosperity Party in the national parliament made a headline when submitted a letter consisting ten points to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and senior leaders of the parliament demanding lasting peace in Oromia region. The MPs called on the government in an unprecedented manner to cease the war in Oromia and make peace deal with Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), in a same manner it did with Tigrayan forces, according to one MP.

Subsequent to their letter, the MPs are reported to have met with federal government officials, security officials and the Speakers of both the House of People’s Representatives and House of federation. as well as Shimelis Abdisa, President of the Oromia Regional State on Tuesday, 27 December to further discuss on security issues of Oromia region.

In subsequent development, MP Bethel Malkamu said that the MPs “demanded that the reconciliation in Tigray be conducted in the same way with the militants operating in Oromia, and they told us that they are willing for a peace agreement and that they are preparing for the peace talks and reconciliation process.” However, she said that they were not given any explanation on what the peace and reconciliation process would look like and how it would be conducted.

The members of the parliament elected from Oromia continued calling on everyone to exert pressure to bring an end to the conflict and violence in Oromia. They also called on community members and elders to put pressure on both the government and the militants to end the war.

In January this year, in a rare statement, the US government said it wants an end to the conflict in Oromia regional state during a phone call between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Secretary of State Antony Blinken when the two “discussed the need to bring an end to ongoing instability in the Oromia region.” AS

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