The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) announced its withdrawal from the second round of the national elections scheduled for September 30, 2021.
In a statement posted on its official Twitter page on Friday September 17, 2021, the Executive Committee (EC) of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) revealed its decision to withdraw from the delayed general elections.
The EC, which held its ordinary meeting in Jigjiga between September 7 – 10 2021 and again on September 16, 2021, discussed multiple issues pertinent to the current affairs of the country and “pondered on the dire situation developing in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia, and the Somali state.”
To this end, the EC reiterated its firm commitment to non-violence and stated its decision to pursue its political aims through dialogue and peaceful process despite the challenges and unfair treatment the ONLF has been subjected to since its arrival into the country following the peace agreement between the party and the Ethiopian government, the statement indicated.
According to the statement, the EC evaluated the party’s preparation to take part in the coming elections and consulted with its members and supporters extensively. Subsequently, after this careful deliberation, the EC passed a decision to withdraw from the 2021 elections.
“ONLF EC deeply regrets this decision. However, despite the repeated appeals to NEBE to rectify the widespread voter registration process fraud by the Prosperity Party (PP) with concrete suggestions by the opposition parties, it has failed to put in place the conditions necessary for free and fair election in the Somali state. The people’s hope created by postponing the election for three months, was shattered by NEBE’s decision to maintain the fraudulent process,” the party stated.
The statement also claimed that despite its efforts and commitment to pursue its struggle via all the necessary peaceful means, the political landscape is bumpy, making the entire process difficult. The party blamed the incumbent for making the entire process challenging.
“The circumstances that the ruling party imposed on the ONLF and other opposition parties, by blocking candidate registration, attacking or harassing candidates and members, and finally obstructing proper voter registration of the people with no recourse to genuine justice, has finally forced the ONLF to the withdrawal today from the elections.” The party also listed the challenges that it and other opposition political parties have faced in the region.
Furthermore, it called on all political actors to find a peaceful resolution to the ongoing crisis in the country. “Since peace cannot be kept alone in a single state while war rages in other states of Ethiopia, the ONLF is calling on all parties to the current war to opt for peaceful settlement of the conflict and spare the lives of millions harmed by the continuation of this destructive war,” the statement read.
Finally, despite its withdrawal from the upcoming elections, the ONLF once again reiterated its strategic choice to pursue the rights of the Somali people through a peaceful proactive struggle and stated that it is willing to engage in any genuine national dialogue.
It can be recalled that PM Abiy Ahmed (PhD) invited all ousted political parties to come back home and engage in a peaceful political struggle. And on August 12, 2018, the ONLF declared a unilateral ceasefire and some of its members returned to Ethiopia.
Following the deliberation between the Ethiopian Government and the leaders of neighboring Eritrea, and having signed a peace deal, the ONLF army returned to the Somali Regional State from their base in Eritrea back in November 2018.
Established on August 15, 1984, the party that has been known for its secessionist agenda celebrated its 37th anniversary recently.