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News: Tensions high in western Oromia following clashes between OLF militia, security forces

Pictures circulating on social media show pro OLF protesters

Addis Abeba, October 29/2018 – Tensions were high since the weekend following clashes between supporters of rebel group Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) led by Dawud Ibsa and security forces, DW Amharic reported citing eyewitnesses as its source of information. The BBC Amharic on its part reported there were clashes between OLF militamen and federal security forces this morning in Kelem Wellega zone Gidami werda, Kelem town. Citing its anonymous sources, the BBC Amharic also said that civilians were in hiding for fear of their lives.

Other source also tell Addis Standard that Dawud Ibsa was blocked from traveling beyond Nekemte on Saturday on 27 October by his own supporters and armed militiamen who suspected his trip to that part of the country was part of efforts to disarm OLF’s militia. The same sources say he was forced to cancel his trip and return to Addis Abeba on the same day. It is not clear why he was in the area, where he draws a large support from.

Pictures spreading on social media show several protests taking place today in cities and towns in west Wellega zone of the Oromia regional state in western Ethiopia by supporters of the OLF demanding a stop in attempts by federal government to disarm the rebel group.

DW Amharic added that Oromia Regional State President Lemma Megerssa has on Saturday confirmed the the news that OLF supporters have blocked business activities in the area and affected the daily routine of civilians. He denounced the confrontations and stressed that on the struggle of OLF supporters was “not in the right discourse”. He asked for calm and law and order, DW Amharic reported.

The escalation of tensions happened even after statement issued by OLF on Saturday urging its supporters for calm. However, the statement made a vague reference to the process of disarmament when it condemned the narrative of one disarming the other as a highly distorted narrative and should be threaded carefully. In what appears to be an apparent condemnation of online criticisms against it  by pro government individuals, OLF’s statement also said that the such distorted narrative of disarming its militia should not be disseminated by individuals who are not concerned with the process.

President Lemma on his part said that disagreements between OLF and Oromo Democratic Party (ODP) should not create opportunities to those who want to hurt the Oromo people and appealed for OLF’s supporters not to take to the streets until after the issues were resolved the government amicably.  Our people have passed the point for staging a protest,” Lemma was quoted as saying.  AS

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