Home | News    Thursday 14 October 2010

Ethiopia: Rebel group to become legal political party

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By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

October 13, 2010 (ADDIS ABABA) – The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) who have fought for the eastern region’s right to self-determination has sealed peace accord with central government to end its 25 year-long insurgency.

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ONLF fighters (file/Getty)

The peace accord, welcomed by state officials, was signed on Tuesday between Federal Affairs Minister Shiferaw Teklemariam and the chairman of the ONLF faction’s supreme council, Salahdin Abdurahman Maow.

The agreement includes an amnesty for jailed leaders and members of the group. The group will also turn itself into a legal political group and continue a peaceful struggle.

“Our group has come to understand the destructive nature of war and believed war is not the only option to the problem” Saladin Abdurrahman, Chairman of the ONLF factions.

“The peace agreement is crucial for lasting peace and to bring sustainable development to the Ogaden region” he added.

Federal Affairs Minister, Shiferaw Teklemariam said, "the conviction of both sides has brought about a historical reconciliation in the region."

Abay Tsehaye, national security adviser to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, hailed the deal saying an “important input toward realizing unity in the Horn of Africa’s country”.

The group ONLF faction led by Saladin Abdurrahman is a breakaway group. It is unclear if his group or the faction still fighting is the more significant. Both factions regularly claim to be the main group of the ONLF.

A spokesman for the ONLF group who are still at war with the Ethiopian government, Abderahmane Mahadi, told AFP that the other faction as "irrelevant."

"It’s irrelevant. They don’t represent anybody and it will not change anything in the Ogaden. The fighting will continue," Abderahmane Mahadi told AFP by phone from Britain.

"They are just individuals who want to get constituencies and have power, of course money is also very important."

The armed wing of the ONLF is the Ogaden National Liberation Army (ONLA) has been designated a terrorist group by the Ethiopian government.

Ethiopia accuses Eritrea of arming and financing, the Ogaden National Liberation Front, the Oromo liberation Front (OLF) and Somalia’s Al Shabab,an allegation Asmara denies.

The ONLF has claimed responsibility for several attacks inside the horn of Africa nation including an attack on a Chinese run oil company, which killed 9 Chinese and 65 Ethiopians in 2007.

(ST)

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