By Siyanne Mekonnen @Siyaanne
Addis Abeba, September 23/2021 – Yesterday, Oromia regional government said that it is ready to pardon members of “Shanee” (a term used by government officials to refer to the Oromo Liberation Army) ahead of the formation of a new regional government. The head of the Oromia Region Communication Affairs Bureau, Getachew Balcha, told a local newspaper that the government welcomes members of the recently designated terrorist group ‘who agree to a peaceful struggle’.
Getachew recalled that the regional government called on ‘Shanee’ armed rebels to return to peaceful struggle three months ago. “Those who understood that Oromo people’s demands will only be answered through peaceful struggle positively responded to our calls,” he said, adding “For the sake of keeping the nations peace, the government will pardon members of the terrorist group who knowingly or unknowingly participated in terrorism .”
“For the sake of keeping the nations peace, the government will pardon members of the terrorist group who knowingly or unknowingly participated in terrorism .”
Getachew Balcha, head of the Oromia Region Communication Affairs Bureau
The Oromia regional government welcomed the former commander of the Southern command of the OLA who goes by the name Jaal Golicha. Getachew said, “Jaal Golicha joined the armed struggle to protect the rights and interests of the Oromo people,” further explaining that Jaal Goolica was forced to abandon the armed group after finding it opposed to the Oromo’s interests. In another interview, Getachew said that the former rebel leader will not face terrorsim charges. “Anyone who opposes the terrorist group and abandons it will not be held accountable because individuals are not designated as terrorists. The group is.” he explained.
“Anyone who opposes the terrorist group and abandons it will not be held accountable because individuals are not designated as terrorists. The group is.”
The OLA however said in a statement, “Contrary to government news reports, Mr Gollicha has not been an OLA commander for over a year as he had withdrawn from the field to seek medical treatment.” explaining that Gollicha’s former deputy, Gammachiis Aboye, took his place. “We understand his decision to return to civilian life given his health condition, ” the statement said, and commended Golicha for leading OLA forces in the southern zone for over a decade.
The unforeseen change in Oromia government’s stance on the OLA comes months after it vowed to ‘wipe out’ the rebel group Oromo Liberation Army (OLA). In February 2021 at the regional council’s 13th regular meeting of its Fifth year, the head of OPP (Oromia branch of the ruling Prosperity Party), Fikadu Tessema discussed the OLA and assured the council member the extermination of the armed group. That was followed by an intensive crackdown that claimed the lives of scores of civilians. In one of such instances, Getachew said in an interview with BBC Afaan Oromo that directions are put in place to take measures on ‘bodies who kill people.’
The declaration by Oromia government to pardon members of the armed rebel group comes a day before speaker of the Oromia Regional Council Lomi Bado announced that the last session of the 5th round regional council and the first session of the 6th regional council will be held on Saturday September 25. The session will decide on the appointment of the new regional president and new cabinet members will be appointed.
Lomi Boda added, “The regional council will finalize issues and unfinished draft bills from the previous year before establishing a new regional government that will lead the region for the next Five years.”
Earlier this year, the OLA vowed to “engage in total war” to ensure the right to self-determination for the Oromo people and other oppressed nations of Ethiopia, after expressing disappointment in the parliament’s decision to designate the armed group as a terrorist organization. The OLA recently formed a military alliance with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) which was also designated as a terrorist group by the parliament.AS
Editor’s Note: The article was edited to include comments by the OLA regarding Golicha Dange, Former Commander of the Southern Command