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NewsConflict in Oromia impedes national dialogue preparations

Conflict in Oromia impedes national dialogue preparations

Over 10 political parties yet to be on-boarded to the national dialogue

Protracted conflict in parts of the Oromia regional state is hindering preparations that are underway to conduct a nationwide public dialogue. The National Dialogue Commission (NDC) called for armed groups in the region to lay down their arms and bring their causes to the roundtable.

The Commission is in the final stages of preparation throughout the country to launch the discussion. This includes the Tigray regional state, where a two-year war ended just four months ago.

The Commission was established last year with the mandate to resolve the country’s pressing issues through a first-of-its-kind and all-inclusive public discussion.

The national dialogue is expected to kick off in the next few months. The Commission is currently selecting representatives from various groups to take part in the dialogue. However, the Commission could not start preparations in seven zones in Oromia regional state, according to officials of the NDC.

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The armed group dubbed the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF-Shene) was designated a terrorist organization by the House of People’s Representative (HPR) in May 2021, along with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). During its presence in the region in the past five years, the group has controlled several woredas in Oromia, according to MPs from the region. While calls for a peaceful resolution similar to the TPLF’s intensify, no official steps have been taken.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed concern about the situation in Oromia and the need for resolution through dialogue during his visit to Ethiopia last week.

In February, Shimelis Abdisa, president of Oromia regional state and the regional council, officially called for reconciliation with the group. MPs from the Oromia region also requested the African Union facilitate peace talks between the government and OLF-Shene. However, the HPR, which took the TPLF off the terrorist list last Wednesday, did not mention the OLF-Shene case.

On the other hand, the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia (ICHREE), which was set up by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to investigate human rights violations committed in the northern Ethiopia war, stated during its oral briefing to the Council on March 21 that its mandate includes human rights violations committed in Oromia in recent years.

The NDC is currently working with close to 40 political parties. However, over 10 political parties are still not on-boarded, Mesfin Araya (Prof.), commissioner of the National Dialogue Commission, told local state media.

“Peace is revealing itself in northern Ethiopia. Peace must come in western Ethiopia,” Mesfin said. “Armed forces must be part of the national dialogue. Our door is open. They have to put down their weapons and bring their agenda to the national dialogue platform. All political parties must be included.”

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