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Updated: OLA “acknowledges” upcoming negotiation with Ethiopia government, “strongly objects” reference as “Shene”

Members the OLA fighters. Picture: OLA Website

Addis Abeba – The Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) said in a statement that it “acknowledges the statements” made on Sunday by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on the start next Tuesday of negotiations in Tanzania and said it “can confirm that the Ethiopian regime has accepted our terms for peace negotiations.”

However, the OLA, which has been fighting against government forces in Oromia for the last five years, said that it “strongly objects to the reference of our organization as “Shene,” a term the government often uses to refer to the group, which it had designated as a “terrorist organization” in May 2021.

“Our organization’s name is the Oromo Liberation Army, and any other designation is incorrect and an attempt to misrepresent our identity and objectives. We urge the regime to cease disseminating this kind of disinformation,” the group said rejecting the reference by the government as “OLF/Shene.”

During a live broadcast speech at an event in Addis Abeba this afternoon which was organized to recognize stakeholders who played roles in ending the two years war between the federal government and Tigrayan forces, PM Aboy said that “negotiation that will be held with OLF/Shene will start in Tanzania the day after tomorrow.”

The OLA said that the negotiation includes “the involvement of an independent third-party mediator and a commitment to maintain transparency throughout the process,” and said it is “a crucial and positive step towards establishing a lasting peace in the region.”

But both the government and the OLA did not disclose details on the negotiators.

The statement from both came amidst growing calls for peace including from lawmakers representing Oromia regional state and the US government to end the war in the region which destroyed countless lives and caused immeasurable destruction in the region over the last five five years.

Over the past few months, both the federal government and the OLA have been signaling to efforts in resolving the war through peace talks.

In March this year, PM Abiy hinted at an ongoing effort to resolve the war and acknowledged that the calls made for peace from the Oromia regional state government was decided at a party level with the formation of a committee.

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The PM was referring to the call made by the Oromia regional state president Shimelis Abdissa while addressing the 6th regular meeting of Caffee Oromia, the regional council, on 17 February. The OLA reciprocated it as “welcome news“, but cautioned that the call lacks clarity.

Responding to lawmakers, PM Abiy said the call from the regional government was “a continuation of ” the decision by the ruling party. HE also claimed that “more than ten [rounds of] talks were conducted in the past.”

Although OLA dismissed the claim as “inaccurate” it acknowledged that “there are positive signs that peace talks, with appropriate neutral international third-party mediation, will take place.”

PM Abiy said in his remark that the government and the people “greatly want this negotiation,” and appealed to “all parties” to “think of today” as an example and to consider that “no benefit” will come out of war. He also said in order to provide the people of Wollega, in western Oromia and the epicenter of the war, with the “respite” they deserve, all should discharge roles to consolidate peace.

The OLA on its part said it “remains unwavering in its commitment to engaging in constructive dialogue and working towards a peaceful resolution that addresses the grievances and aspirations of the Oromo people. We are hopeful that this development marks the beginning of a transformative chapter in our pursuit of justice, equality, and self-determination. The OLA strives to reach an agreement that holds both parties accountable, paving the way for a democratic society and a sustainable, enduring peace.” AS

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