Ethiopia: OLF agrees to disarm and demobilize soldiers, again

Dawd Ibssa

by Engidu Woldie
ESAT News (January 22, 2019)

The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) has agreed to disarm and demobilize its soldiers after mediation by Abba Gedas, who brought together leaders of the OLF and the Oromo Democratic Party (ODP), the party of the Prime Minister, for a day long reconciliation conference in Addis Ababa.

Dawd Ibssa, the chairman of the OLF said at the conference that, from now on, the OLF army would be answerable to the Abba Gedas, the traditional leaders of the Oromo. He called on the OLF army to handover arms to the Abba Gedas and adhere to instructions by the traditional leaders.

Ibssa recalled the peace agreement reached with the government in Asmara last summer and said the deal was for the OLF army to be part of the regional police force. But instead, he said, the army was checked into a camp and leaders of the Front were not able to visit them.

But the ODP last month said there were OLF soldiers still roaming in the western part of the country and accused that they had killed dozens, looted and destroyed properties, and triggered massive displacement.

The ODP and OLF leaders at the conference were pressured to accept a peaceful settlement by the Abba Gedas and representatives of the Oromo community. They have also formed a 71 member technical committee to handle the process of laying down of arms and demobilization as well reintegration of the combatants back to civilian lives.

In September, leaders of the OLF and its combatants returned to Ethiopia from their base in neighboring Eritrea following a call for peaceful political struggle by the government of Abiy Ahmed. But since their return, the Front and its combatants have been blamed for the deadly violence in the western Oromo region.

The Oromo Democratic Party (ODP) also accused OLF soldiers of kidnapping people, raping women, robbing banks and attacking police stations in the region.