Government seem to have decided not to tolerate Oromo Liberation Front refusal to disarm
In an interview with Walta Television on June 7, leader of Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) said that there is misconception regarding the agreement with government. He said that his organization did not agree to disarm its combatants.
Ethiopian Federal government officially responded to the statement today and the message seems to send a stern warning to OLF that it must disarm.
“OLF returned to the country [from Eritrea which used to be its military base] after disarming itself. OLF should disarm its remaining combatants,” Government Communication Deputy Minister, Kassahun Gofe, told journalists today in the capital Addis Ababa today.
If OLF is not disarming itself, the alternative is, added Kassahun, “government will carry out the task of disarming [OLF] so as to protect the safety of Ethiopians and to defend the constitutional order.” Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) quoted Kassahun as saying. “There is no way that two armed forces can co-exist in a country, and only a government chosen by the people can led the country in a peaceful way.”
There had been three negotiation meetings in Asmara between OLF leaders and Ethiopian government representatives before OLF leaders returned to Ethiopia on September 15 (just days after the Ethiopian New Year).
OLF leader, Dawud Ibsa, explicitly said during an interview with Walta that “there was no agreement about disagreement during the talk with the government.”
Deputy Minister of Government Communication Affairs, on the other hand, told journalists this morning that the issue of disarming combatants was not raised because it was not a negotiating agenda. And he recalled that When OLF returned to Ethiopia from Asmara, all its 1300 rebel forces were disarmed (they have handed over their weapons to the government of Eritrea) and that those fighters are currently taking orientation at Tolay military training before they reintegrate to the society.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, on his part, has remarked on the issue. Showing no sense of anger, he said, “I don’t believe that OLF will refuse to disarm. It is probably a slip of the tongue. In any case, what opposition party needs is a capacity to scientifically challenge the entity that is in power. All armed opposition forces entered the country disarmed only waiving a flag…”
But what seem to be controversial is OLF soldiers operating in the south and south west of the country.
What the prime minister and the deputy communication minister seem to remind OLF is that its forces entered to Ethiopia through Zalambessa, which was a highly guarded fortress of the Ethiopian Defense Force along the Ethio-Eritrean border.
Before federal government authorities, it was Oromo regional state high ranking official, Addisu Arega, who called for OLF to disarm following the incident that allegedly triggered the violence in Benshangul Gumuz region.
Oromo Liberation Front members are so far implicated; the office of the Attorney general disclosed that already, in causing ethnic based violence and also for the June 23 grenade attack in the capital Addis Ababa during a rally organized in support of Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s government.
Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) returned to Ethiopia responding to a call for peace by the government of prime minister Abiy Ahmed to operate in the country peacefully. For the government of Ethiopia, disarming OLF is a matter of “maintaining the rule of law and defending the constitutional order.”
However, in an interview with VOA Amharic Dawud Ibsa- leader of OLF – denounced government position saying that “it will not help make peace in the country.”
Join the conversation. Like borkena on Facebook and get Ethiopian News updates regularly. As well, you may get Ethiopia News by following us on twitter @zborkena