News Analysis: Fed. gov’t denounces alliance between OLA, TPLF, calls it ‘an unusual marriage’

Billene Seyoum, Press Secretary at the office Prime Minister. Photo: Screenshot

By Addis Standard Staff 

Addis Abeba, August 13/2021 – The Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) announced that it has forged a military alliance with forces loyal to Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). In an interview with The Associated Press,  the commander of the OLA,  Kumsa Diriba, also known as Jaal Marroo said the agreement was reached a few weeks ago after the Tigray forces proposed it. The OLA, often referred to by the government as OLF/Shene was recently designated as a terrorist group by the House of People’s representatives  alongside the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). In a statement the TPLF confirmed the agreement and stated that the details of the agreement will be made public shortly.

The federal government reacted to the alliance at a press briefing by the Prime Minister Office press secretary, Billene Seyoum. She said, “The declared alliance between Shene/OLA &TPLF is not new nor surprising to the GoE. While the timing of the public declaration needs examining, GoE has been indicating for well over 2 yrs now that TPLF have been using Shene as errand runners for their destructive mission.” 

She recalled the decision by the House of People’s Representatives (HoPR) to designate both groups  as terrorist groups. She said, “3 months ago, in accordance with Articles 18 and 19 of Proclamation No. 1176/2020 on the Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism Crimes, both organizations were designated terrorist organizations.” 

While expressing doubts about the timing of the announcement, the press secretary described the alliance as ‘an unusual marriage’. She said, “In yesterday’s (Aug 11) public declaration of this unusual marriage, both organizations publicly acknowledged they are leading destructive activities against the stability of the nation and that terrorism is a general feature of both.”

The press secretary argued, “The government has been saying it for a while now but international media seems to only believe it rather when terrorist organizations tell them. So now they have told the entire world,” she continued, “Important to point out in this regard is no [terrorist] entity can claim to be for the people of Oromia while it kills the people of the region for its political gains and no [terrorist] entity can claim to be for the people of Tigray while it kills its own people and holds them hostage for its political gains.” 

She concluded by highlighting the unilateral ceasefire announced by the federal government back in June. She said, “It is to be recalled that following the enactment of the unilateral ceasefire, the terrorist group have been sending in human waves into the Afar and Amhara regions, attacking, killing, raping civilians, looting and pillaging communities and displacing  more than 300,000 people.”

The press secretary addressed the status of the unilateral ceasefire  “It means that the government and the people of Ethiopia together will employ all means necessary to prevent TPLF from spiraling the country into further instability.”

These developments come as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed earlier this week in a statement called for all forms of complete mobilisation against Tigrayan forces. The PM also addressed the National Defense Forces, Regional Special Forces and Militia to halt what he called ‘the machinations of foreign hands’ as well as ‘destruction committed by the TPLF’. His comments signaled to observers an end to the unilateral ceasefire announced by the federal government earlier in June. AS

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