The regional government of Oromia has urged the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA/shene) to end the confrontation with the government through peaceful means. This is the second time that regional government have publicly advocated for peace, just a week after making a call to find a peaceful path to end the internal conflict.
The Oromia Regional President, Shimelis Abdisa, made the appeal before delivering his six-month report to the Regional Council (Chaffe Oromia). With all due respect, Shimelis remarked, “in the face of this chaffe, I ask the armed forces of OLF/shene to join a peaceful politics.”
It is a major policy reversal for the regional government, which had previously insisted that the only way to deal with the armed organization was through the use of security forces to wipe them out.
Several campaigns have been initiated by regional police, Special Forces, and the national defense forces to eradicate the group. Nonetheless, the OLF/shene has allegedly controlled a number of woredas in the region, frequently clashing with government forces in Wollega, Guji, and central Ethiopia.
A few months before Shimelis’s call, several members of the Ethiopian Parliament had recommended that the government initiate talks with the group, similar to the manner in which the federal government had communicated with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front in order to reach the Pretoria agreement.
A few weeks ago, Shimelis held public dialogues in different towns in Wollega, where the group has a strong presence. However, analysts think his call was only symbolic and did not provide any concrete steps forward. The Oromia Prosperity Party, according to analysts, is not prepared to share power with the OLF/shene, which has been labeled a terrorist group by the House of Peoples’ Representatives (HPR) together with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
Fikadu Tesema, leader of the Oromia Prosperity Party, echoed Shimelis’s appeal during the Cheffe meeting.
“The party is ready for a peaceful resolution with the OLF/Shene,” Fikadu declared. “The battle in Oromia must be stopped; some preparations are already under way, but elders, religious leaders, and others must put pressure on them to end the fight amicably.”
Members of the Chaffe, on the other side, voiced alarm over the proliferation of violent extremist organizations in the Oromia region, where they have caused ongoing strife and several deaths. Two or three armed extremist groups from Benishangul and other regional states have infiltrated Oromia, they said, refraining from naming the organizations.
Members of the regional council say that these armed organizations have wreaked havoc across most of western Oromia, particularly in the areas of west Wollega, Nejo, Mendi, Boji, Haro, Sasiga, and others.