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Ethiopia’s Zenawi denies peace talks with rebel OLF

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December 13, 2008 (ADDIS ABABA) — Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi denied reports saying that Ethiopian government has agreed to hold peace talks with the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) without preconditions

“There are no started, ongoing or planned talks with OLF” Meles replied to a question raised from opposition MPs in parliament on Thursday.

Despite his denial a mediation team drawn from Oromo elders recently said that they have met the Prime Minister in person and he told them that his country is ready to hold talks with the group without any preconditions.

But Meles agreed that there were many elders that demanded and given permission and support from government in an effort to convince the group to come to a peaceful, democratic and legal way of struggle, which he said the efforts didn’t seem to work out so far.

"Ethiopia welcomes any political group at home or abroad for peace talks but only on one condition," said Prime Minister Zenawi.

"That body has first to agree to accept, respect and safe-guard the nation’s constitution" he said. He further added "OLF in a clear and concrete words didn’t yet assured us that it accepts Ethiopia’s constitution."

"As far as this stand is not changed negotiation with OLF or any other group is impossible. No body can change, improve or negotiate over the constitution," he stressed.

The OLF is an organization established in1973 by Oromo nationals to promote self-determination for the majority Oromo people against what they call "Ethiopia’s colonial rule".

Ethiopian government considers the group as a “terror group” and holds it responsible for different bomb attacks including to the latest bomb blast that blew a town minibus near the ministry of foreign affairs.

(ST)

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