by Engidu Woldie
ESAT News (January 3, 2019)
The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) said while it is eager to take part in peaceful electoral politics, priority should be given to working for the peace and stability of the country before rushing into elections.
Speaking to ESAT, spokesperson and foreign affairs head for ONLF, Hassan Abdulahi said the Front is prepared to work with the government to bring peace and stability in Ethiopia.
Abdulahi also said the Front does not believe current situations in Ethiopia allow for the conduct of smooth elections and hence the ONLF has no objections if elections, that are slated for May 2020, are postponed.
“Elections are conducted when people have the environment that is suitable and peaceful,” Abdulahi told ESAT and also called on those who incite violence to refrain from wreaking havoc.
In November, the ONLF announced that it had officially laid down arms and combatants of the Front have returned to Ethiopia from their base in Eritrea. The move followed a peace agreement reached with the Ethiopian government in Asmara in October.
In December, based on the peace agreement, leaders of the ONLF returned to Ethiopia to a warm welcome in Addis Ababa and their political base, the Somali region.
Since its establishment in 1984, the ONLF has been fighting for the self-determination and autonomy of Smalis in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia.
The ONLF had in the past claimed responsibility for several attacks against government targets.
In 2007, the ONLF attacked a Chinese petroleum exploration site in Ogaden, killing 74 people – 65 Ethiopians and 9 Chinese nationals.
The ONLF now says it is fully committed to peaceful political struggle, and according to Abdulahi, the Front sees Ethiopia as being on the path of transition in the leadership of the government of Abiy Ahmed.