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OLF protests army deployment in west Oromia

In a conflict that erupted in West Oromia, Qellem Wellega zone, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF)/ABO – whose supporters are alleged to be active in those areas – protested against the deployment of the national army by the government, The Reporter has learnt.

It is to be recalled that the party which is said to have 4,300 soldiers is yet to disarm its soldiers of which only 1,500 have disarmed thus far. The conflict which called for the deployment of the national army began as of this week.

According to reports from the government, forces that operate in the name of OLF are active in Western Oromia and are becoming a security threat.

Over the week, Lemma Megerssa, president of Oromia Regional State, told the regional media that these forces should restrain from such actions. Yet, towns like Dembi Dollo witnessed clashes between the government force and an armed group that operate in the area.

For days, activities were brought to a halt with roads connecting Wellega and Gambella closed, source from the area told The Reporter. The residents of the town were also forced to hide in their houses.

Following the deployment of the government forces to the area, OLF issued a statement on the matter and said that it is against the deployment.

“The deployment will have a negative consequence,” read the statement. It also asked the government to be accountable.

Nevertheless, following a reported talks between the government and the Front; things have become calmer. So far, there are no reports regarding causalities in the area.

A couple of weeks ago, Ibssa Negewo, executive committee member of OLF, said that his party came to engage in a peaceful political activism in Ethiopia. “The leaders of the party are now in talks with the government,” source from the OLF told The Reporter.

OLF is a political party established back in the 1970’s. The party has been struggling for the self-determination of the Oromo people for many years. In early 1990’s, the party and its leaders were part of the transitional government after the downfall of the Marxist, Derg.

Following a disagreement with the incumbent EPRDF, the then senior leaders of the OLF including Leencho Letta went in exile and lived abroad for more than two decades.