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Friday, July 19, 2024

Armed group in Oromia says Ethiopian peace overtures not sincere

The Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), a group engaged in armed conflict with federal and regional forces in Oromia, said remarks made by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed regarding peace talks are not sincere.

During a parliamentary session on Tuesday, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was questioned about the recent peace proposal that President Shimelis Abdisa of Oromia Regional Government extended to the OLA.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed responded that the “government is very interested in resolving this conflict peacefully; a committee entrusted with the task of leading the peace process has been set up.” “We have made more than ten attempts to contact the OLA in the last two months,” he added.

The OLA on its part accused the prime minister of misrepresenting the reality of the peace talks on the ground and said the attempts made so far “were not sincere efforts to engage with OLA leadership.”

OLA’s press release published on its official website went on to add “the regime deployed several local mediation committees to persuade individual OLA officers to surrender, which ultimately resulted in failure. This approach is similar to the regime’s unsuccessful 2019 attempt to dismantle the OLA using prominent local figures.”

For Prime Minister Abiy, the challenge thus far in negotiating with the OLA has been the group’s “lack of centralized leadership, and divergent views and principles,” a claim OLA rejects.

“The regime should not be attempting to develop a new propaganda narrative suggesting that the OLA is too decentralized to negotiate with. The OLA’s leadership is the High Command, which the regime is well aware of,” the OLA said.

Regardless, the OLA is cautiously optimistic a peace agreement with the federal government will be reached in the near future with the assistance of international partners.

“Setting aside Abiy Ahmed’s ill-timed and misleading claims, there are positive signs that peace talks, with appropriate neutral international third-party mediation, will take place. We remain dedicated to finding a peaceful solution to the conflict and call on the regime to avoid jeopardizing the path to peace,” the OLA said.