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News: Preparations underway to kickstart peace talks between Ethiopian gov’t, OLA in Tanzania

Fighters of the rebel group OLA (Photo Social Media)

Addis Abeba – Preparations are underway in Zanzibar, Tanzania to kickstart negotiations between the Ethiopian government and the rebel group Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) which is aimed at peacefully resolving the five years war ongoing in Ethiopia’s Oromia region. 

Nuur Mohamud Sheekh, the spokesperson for the Executive Secretary of IGAD, told Addis Standard that “preparations for the talks are underway,” describing the process as “Ethiopian-led-Ethiopian-owned”. 

“The Executive Secretary of IGAD Dr Workneh Gebeyehu has always availed his “good offices” to the two sides. He wishes the parties every success,” Nuur said commenting on the involvement of the regional body.

Addis Standard has learned from credible sources that the talks are being facilitated by the governments of Norway, Kenya, and the IGAD. Both the government of Ethiopia and the OLA did not disclose details as of yet on neither the negotiators nor the resumption of talks.

Background

On Sunday, 23 April PM Abiy Ahmed announced that negotiations with the rebel group, which the government refers to as “Shene” and designated as a “terrorist organization” in May 2021 would start in Tanzania.

On 24 April the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) said in a statement that it “acknowledges the statements” made by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and said it “can confirm that the Ethiopian regime has accepted our terms for peace negotiations”.

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.”

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 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. AS

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