Mengistu D. Assefa for East African Policy Research Institute
07 August 2018
Oromo Liberation Front, a resistance armed organization held a successful negotiation with the delegates of the government of Ethiopia today in Asmara, Eritrea’s capital. The delegates of the Ethiopian government was led by Workneh Gebeyehu, the country’s foreign minister and Lemma Megersa, a charismatic politician in Ethiopia who came to public spotlight after his election to preside over the restive region of Oromia in late 2016. The Front’s leader Dawud Ibsa, and spokesperson Tolera Adaba lead the OLF side, which includes other dignitaries like Ibsa Negewo, Atomsa Kumsa and Gemechu Ayana.
Yemane Gebremeskel, Eritrean Information minister in his tweet said that “Agreement of Reconciliation” was signed between Oromia Regional State Government President Lemma Megersa and Oromo Liberation Front Chairperson Dawud Ibsa.
Workneh Gebeyehu, Ethiopian Foreign Minister, Dawud Ibsa, OLF Chairperson & Lemma Megersa, President of Oromia Regional State, August 7, 2018, Asmara, Eritrea/Source Workneh Gebeyehu`s Facebook Page
The Agreement details the ending of hostilities between the two parts, OLF agreement to conduct peaceful political struggle in Ethiopia and establishment of a joint committee to implement the Agreement.
OLF believes that Oromos have been under successive repressions and oppressions of Abyssinian powers under different names. According to its mission statement on its website “The fundamental objective of the Oromo liberation movement is to exercise the Oromo peoples’ inalienable right to national self-determination to terminate a century of oppression and exploitation, and to form, where possible, a political union with other nations on the basis of equality, respect for mutual interests and the principle of voluntary associations”.
Established by Oromo nationalists in the 1973, OLF was among the rebel groups who fought to topple the dictator Mengistu Hailemariam. After defeating Mengistu together with Eritrea People`s Liberation Front (EPLF) and Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), OLF was part of the Transitional government until it was pushed out in 1992 by the TPLF who controls the Coalition of four ethnic parties. Oromo People’s Democratic Party (OPDO), Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) and South Ethiopia Peoples’ Democratic Movement SEPDM) are the other three rubber stamp members of the coalition, Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).
OLF has been based in Asmara, a long-term Ethiopia’s enemy with which Ethiopia had a bloody two years border war. The stalemate had continued as a “no war no peace” status till the it finally ended in July 2018 by the Ethio-Eritrea peace deal. Ethiopia has entertaining a wide range of reforms by its new leader Abiy Ahmed, who took power in April after four years of ungovernable nationwide protests. Abiy called upon political groups to engage in a peaceful struggle to which his government decided to remove OLF and other three indigenous parties from the terrorist list.
In pursuant to this, OLF declared a temporary unilateral ceasefire on July 13, 2018. Today’s agreement between the two parts marks one of the hallmarks of new political arena in the east African economic powerhouse with over 100 million people.