News: Army threatens to eradicate Oromo armed group, again, claims success in liberating villages

Joint forces of ENDF, Oromia Police and local militia consulting with locals in Southern Oromia – Photo: ENDF/Facebook

Addis Ababa – The Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) has announced, once again, a renewed military operation against the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), which the government refers to as PLF/Shene, in southern Oromia aimed at destroying the rebel group operating in the area and stabilizing the region. The army also said it has liberated several villages in Southern Oromia.

In a statement it issued today, the ENDF said that as part of the military’s operation to eradicate OLA, government coalition forces deployed in Southern Oromia and surrounding areas have liberated seven villages that have been under the control of OLA for years.

On 22 June last year, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said that the ENDF “has begun taking measures since yesterday” against the armed group in West Wollaga zone, Oromia regional state, as well as other parts of the country.

Similarly, on 22 December, Oromia regional state has announced that it was preparing to take an “organized law enforcement measure” against the group. Deputy president of Oromia region Awolu Abdi said that the details “would be worked with serious attention to ensure lasting peace,” and that “an organized law enforcement measure [will] be launched.”

Quoting unnamed senior commander in charge of the operation, the ENDF said today that a joint force operating in West and East Guji zones and Borana zone in southern Oromia, are on a “successful mission” to totally “eradicate” the rebel group and bring lasting peace to the areas.

Both the regional government and the national army upped the threat against the rebel group amidst intensified fighting between government forces and the armed group in several parts of Oromia that included the use of drones in civilian populated areas.

However, there are increasing calls for peaceful resolution of the conflict, which started nearly four years ago. On 05 December, the MPs who are also members of the ruling Prosperity party had 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.

Speaking to the BBC about the meeting, MP Bethel Malkamu said, “We 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.

The Oromia regional government has announced that it will not sit down for talks with militants it says “have no political agenda”, but will welcome those who come putting their weapons down. The armed rebels on their part have been saying that they will negotiate in the presence of a credible third party. AS

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