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Ogaden rebels say it is time for political solution with Ethiopian gov’t

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

August 29, 2010 (ADDIS ABABA) — The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), a rebel group who had been fighting for the independence of eastern Somali region confirmed that it will sign final peace agreement with Ethiopia - despite a rebuff by a splinted official in Doha.

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Ethiopia map showing Ogaden region (Reuters)

Foreign Bureau of the rebel group, in a statement sent to Sudan Tribune said that “the Somali people in the Ogaden region suffered a huge amount of political unrest that caused bloodshed and now is the time for a political solution”.

Last week, a National Security advisor to Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abay Tsehaye announced that his government is finalizing negotiations with some 20 ONLF rebel officials and a peace settlement will be signed in October.

The negotiations between the two parties came after the rebels accepted peace offer from central government and expressed their readiness to engage in a peaceful political struggle abided by country’s constitution.

"The ONLF has received the peace offer from Ethiopia and have consulted with the Ogadenian intellectuals, elders, traditional leaders and its own members regarding the peace deal and all have agreed with no hesitation with the peace offer without losing their objectives," ONLF Statement said.

"The government and the ONLF have caused pointless losses of human life and the destruction of property. So without looking back in the past, the ONLF believes that it is the time to rethink and face the reality with regret and start changing the conflict mannerisms into one that cares for the mothers and children dying daily because of the conflict in the Ogaden region."

Contradicting enough on August 24 however, Hussein Nor, a person who alleged to be the spokesperson of Ogaden rebels in Doha blasted Ethiopia’s claim of being in a process to ink peace deal with ONLF saying a "baseless propaganda".

"We remember there was a man called Salahudin that once talked with Ethiopia in 2006. He took money from ONLF. But there is no any agreement between Ethiopia and ONLF," Hussein told allvoices.com

He added that there had not been any talks with Ethiopia and no senior members of the ONLF had contacted the Ethiopian government.

On the contrary, the latest statement of the group received by Sudan Tribune dismissed the above statement separately released by the splinted rebel official from Doha saying "aimed to confusion".

"The ONLF is one organization with one leader under Engineer Salahudin Abdirahman Haji Maow, and no one can confuse or stop the peace agreement accepted by the Ogaden people," it said.

"Admiral Mohamed Omar Osman is not acting like one of the Ogadenian people but he is acting by himself with a few disillusioned followers that happen to be his relatives whom use to spread propaganda on the internet pages by denying the organization’s peace deal with Ethiopia," the statement further added.

The communiqué reaffirmed ONLF’s willingness to abide by a genuine peace settlement with the Ethiopian federal government alongside conditions in October 2010.

The ONLF had been fighting for over two decades seeking right to self-determination to the dominantly Somali speaking region of Ogaden.

Established in 1984 and later designated as terrorist group by the Ethiopian government, the group has claimed responsibility for several attacks including an attack at a Chinese-run oil field, which killed 9 Chinese and 65 Ethiopians in 2007.