The Ethiopian government has maintained secrecy regarding its ongoing negotiations with the radical ethnic Oromo militant group operating in the Oromia region for several weeks. The Ethiopian Parliament has designated the group as a terrorist organization in May 2021.
Despite information circulating from various sources, the government’s communication affairs ministry has refrained from disclosing any details. However, Meles Alem, the spokesperson for Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, briefly referred to these negotiations during his biweekly briefing.
DW Amharic reported Meles as stating that the government is currently in the midst of a second round of negotiations with OLF-Shane, the militant group. Meles is quoted as saying, “There was a first round of negotiation with Shane. The second round is continuing,” declining to provide further specifics including where the negotiation is being held.
The initial round of talks took place six months ago in Tanzania, yielding no agreement. Merera Gudina, leader of the Oromo Nationalist Congress, disclosed in an interview with the Ethiopian Reporter last August that the government had proposed granting the rebel group immunity for their previous criminal activities in exchange for the group’s commitment to a peaceful political struggle. Furthermore, reports indicated the group was offered assurances regarding the wealth acquired during their armed struggle. However, the rebel faction demanded a share of power within the Federal government. The Ethiopian government neither confirmed nor denied these reports.
Recent reports indicate that the second round of negotiations is underway in Tanzania (as reported by borkena earlier this week), yet the specifics of the negotiation points remain unclear. Information suggests that senior military officers from the Defense Force, alongside Jal Mero, the leader of the militant organization self-identified as the “Oromo Liberation Army,” and his deputy, have been engaged in discussions. Subsequently, five Ethiopian Opposition political parties issued a joint statement criticizing the government for keeping the negotiation points secret and involving the defense force, typically a politically neutral entity, in talks with the rebels on behalf of the Ethiopian government. Later, the Ethiopian government reportedly dispatched political leaders to represent the government in the talk. There were reports that the negotiation was progressing well but it was not confirmed by the government or the militant organization. OLF-Shane is linked to the massacre of tens of thousands of ethnic Amhara communities in the Oromia region of Ethiopia – among other crimes.
Meanwhile, state-owned Ethiopian media outlets have been reporting recent military successes of the Defense Force against OLF-Shane rebels in the Wollega area of the Oromia region.
Last week, Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Demeke Mekonnen held a phone conversation with Tanzania’s Minister For Foreign Affairs, January Makamba, discussing “bilateral and regional issues of common interest.”
Simultaneously, in Saudi Arabia, during the inaugural Saudi-Africa Summit, Abiy Ahmed engaged with Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan. Their discussions primarily centered on “strengthened cooperation,” as highlighted by Abiy Ahmed on his social media page.
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