ONLF rebel leaders says they returned to Ethiopia in response to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s call for peace and that they want to help stabilize the Ethiopian Somali region.
Three Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) Leaders have returned to Ethiopia this morning from Eritrea, where they used to coordinate the rebel movement they lead.
Their return came just a day after the movement declared a unilateral ceasefire and an end to any armed movement hostile to the government of Ethiopia.
“The Front returned home due to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s call” Adani Abdulkadir, spokesperson of the rebel movement, told journalists.
The new Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front government has made it customary to greet opposition leaders as they return to the country and Deputy Communications Affairs Minister, Kassahun Goffe, has done so to ONLF leaders upon arrival at Bole International Airport.
Answering the question why the movement is returning to the country this fasts, the spokesperson said: “it is to help stabilize the situation in Ethio-Somali region.”
Last week, the organization reportedly condemned the Ethiopian government decision to deploy defense force in the region following what was said to be ethnic-based killings perpetrated by radicalized youth organized by the former president of the region Abdi Illey, currently in custody, and the region’s special force. More than 10 Ethiopian Orthodox Churches were burned and thousands of residents of Jijiga, Kebri Dehar and other towns in the region were displaced.
In 2007, the rebel forces of ONLF killed more than 74 foreigners in the oil field in the region. Subsequently, the Ethiopian parliament designated ONLF as a terrorist organization in 2009. And last month, the parliament removed the organization from the list of terrorist organizations.
ONLF has been fighting to secede the Ethiopian Somali region from the rest of Ethiopia since 1984 and it has not made it clear if the organization has dropped its secessionist agenda or not.
The party governing Ethiopian Somali region, Ethiopian Somali People’s Democratic Party, elected Ahmed Shide who is currently serving as Federal government communications affair minister as its new chairman following the resignation and arrest of Abdi Mohammed Omar (Abdi Illey.)