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News: ONLF, Congress for Somali Cause criticize inadequate response to severe drought, crackdown on dissidents in Somali State

Ahmed Mohammed Hassan (top center) & Abdirahman Mahdi (bottom center) at the two day meeting in Nairobi. Picture: CSO

Addis Abeba – A senior team led by Abdirahman Mahdi, Chairman of the opposition Oganden National Liberation Front (ONLF), met with members of the Congress for Somali Cause (CSC), led by Ahmed Mohammed Hassan (Baje) in Nairobi and “discussed the current crisis in Ethiopia and the Somali State,” according to a joint press statement sent to Addis Standard. “The two delegates extensively deliberated on the dire situation that all peoples in Ethiopia are facing, in particular, the looming catastrophe the Somali people are facing regarding the unfolding famine in the Somali state and the narrowing of the political space in the Somali state, which so far has the most peaceful area in the Horn of Africa,” the statement reads.

The discussion reflected on the current drought in Somali region which they said was is the “worst drought in decades” that is killing livestock and creating a dire humanitarian crisis. “Since May last year, much of the region has received less than 30 percent of normal rainfall, wiping out pastures and worsening food and water shortages. Indeed, drought is a slow onset, creeping natural hazard and there is often more time to plan and implement an appropriate response. Although, drought is a natural phenomenon, it never causes famine, unless there are other factors, such bad (or lack of) governance, poor public policies, or misplaced priorities,” the joint statement further reads.

Therefore, the delegates from the two sides said that “the current situation of the region, which leaves millions to deal with crippling famine, hunger, and malnutrition, proves the inability of the government to act responsibly, acknowledge the extent of the problem and invest in the right areas and programs. Although, the drought has already caused significant loss of human lives (including children) and destroyed asset and livelihoods, the measures employed so far by the federal and local government are, not only ineffective to deliver the lifesaving services, but have exposed the carelessness and sloppiness of the state. Instead of drawing attention the sense of urgency needed in tackling the drought, the Ethiopian federal leaders minimize the critical situation and danger the Somali people are facing in regard to the drought when they visit the Somali state.”

The joint press statement said the parties sympathize with the victims, “who lost their loved ones and whose livelihoods have been destroyed, we are condemning the gross negligence and dismissal of the reality on the ground by the administration. The parties are urging the federal and regional governments to stop denying the facts, reverse course and act responsibly before many more lives have been lost.”

National dialogue credible representative

With regard to Ethiopia’s planned national dialogue, which the joint statement referred to as “the already floundering national dialogue”, the parties said that “the fact that Ambassador Mohamud Dirir (the least credible Somali politician) is being selected by Addis Abeba to represent Somalis in the forums, without appropriately consulting key Somali stakeholders including the local representatives of the now divided Prosperity Party, illustrates the depth and scale of political, economic and social marginalization that Somalis have been experiencing for decades, as we firmly believe that the same is true in all other regional state. Thus, such approach that the government has adopted, will render the spirit of the dialogue invalid and will never serve the interest of all peoples in Ethiopia.”

“We, therefore urge the government to appreciate the scale of the challenge that Ethiopia is facing and devise measures that can bring the communities, torn apart by devastating conflicts and distrust, together. More importantly, the government must realize, that without cessation of hostilities in all parts of Ethiopia, and exclusion of key stakeholders, there will be no mindful dialogue that can bring a lasting peace to this part of the world.”

The two parties also condemn “the recent illegal detention of political leaders and youth in the Somali state and the increasing narrowing of political space and denial of the basic democratic right of freedom of expression and right of assembly that the current Somali state government is implementing, which is in against the spirit of democratic change that was promised in 2018 after changing the previous regime.”

Finally, the two parties agreed to continue cooperating on advocating for the democratic rights of the people and highlighting the the effect of the impending famine in the Somali state. Dispatch/AS

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