From Left: Redwan Hussien,Prof. Mohammed Hassan, Dr. Gedion Timothwos and Taha Abdii
Addis Abeba – The week-long talks between the representatives of the Ethiopian government and the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) that was taking place in, Zanzibar Tanzania, and described by Redwan Hussien National Security Advisor to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, as “constructive” concluded today without agreement.
“While the talks have been largely constructive,unfortunately, it was not possible to reach an agreement on some issues during this round of the talks,” Ambassador Redwan tweeted, adding that “both parties have acknowledged the need to continue these talks with a view to resolving the conflict permanently and peacefully.”
In a statement sent to Addis Standard, the OLA on its part said that “while understandings were reached on some outstanding issues, unfortunately, it was not possible to reach an agreement on key political matters during this round of talks.”
“The OLF-OLA would like to take this opportunity to reiterate its commitment to the peaceful resolution of the conflict through an honorable political settlement,” the group said.
The Government Communication Service also confirmed the information and said that although the talks were “largely constructive,” but it was “not possible” to reach an agreement “on some issues during this round of talks.”
This is the first official update from both the Ethiopian government and the OLA since the start of the talks last week.
Without detailing the demands from the government’s side, Redwan said that it “would like to take this opportunity to reiterate its commitment to the peaceful resolution of the conflict in accordance with the FDRE Constitution and within the framework of fundamental principles that have guided such efforts until now.”
Last week, the two sides were said to have been engaged in multiple discussions on preliminary topics, including discussions on modalities and rules of engagement to pave ways for broader, substantive negotiations, two sources who are familiar with the matter told Addis Standard, with of the two describing the atmosphere as “encouraging.”
It was not immediately clear if the discussions moved to substantive issues of negotiations between the two parties.
The talks were facilitated by the governments of Norway and Kenya with a role from IGAD. Addis Standard learned that the U.S. has not played direct role in this round of talks, but commenting for the first time since the announcement of the talks the U.S. said yesterday it welcomed the news “and encourages all parties to negotiate in good faith toward a mutually acceptable resolution.”
Ambassador Redwan said expressed the government’s “gratitude to those who have facilitated and hosted the talks.” Likewise, the OLA expressed “its gratitude to those who facilitated and hosted the talks.”
Both sides made the move to resolve the war that has gripped the Oromia region for nearly five years and destroyed countless lives and caused immeasurable destruction in the region, after calls for peace began gaining momentum, including from lawmakers representing Oromia regional state and the US government to end the war through peace negotiations.
On Sunday, 23 April PM Abiy Ahmed made a surprise announcement that negotiations with the rebel group, which the government refers to as “Shene” and designated as a “terrorist organization” in May 2021 would start in Tanzania.
The next day, the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) said in a statement that it “acknowledges the statements” made by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and said it “can confirm that the Ethiopian regime has accepted our terms for peace negotiations”.
The group said that the negotiation includes “the involvement of an independent third-party mediator and a commitment to maintain transparency throughout the process,” and said it is “a crucial and positive step towards establishing a lasting peace in the region.” AS