Ethiopia talks with Oromo rebel group end without deal for a third time

The negotiations in Tanzania followed talks in April and May that also failed to produce an agreement.

Ethiopians celebrate return of once-banned Oromo Liberation Front
Hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians gather to welcome returning leaders of the once-banned Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) in the capital, Addis Ababa, on Saturday, September 15, 2018 [File: Mulugeta Ayene/AP Photo]

A second round of peace talks between Ethiopia’s government and a rebel group aimed at ending a decades-old conflict in the country’s largest region Oromiya has ended without a deal, both sides said on Tuesday.

The negotiations in Tanzania between the government and the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) followed talks in April and May that also failed to produce an agreement.

The OLA is an outlawed splinter group of a formerly banned opposition party that returned from exile in 2018. Its grievances are rooted in the alleged marginalisation and neglect of people in Oromiya, which surrounds the capital, Addis Ababa.

The violence in Oromiya has killed hundreds of people in the past few years and been one of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s main security headaches since the end of a two-year civil war in the northern Tigray region last year.

“Due to the intransigence of the other party, the talks have come to an end without an agreement,” Redwan Hussien, Abiy’s national security adviser, said in a post on social media site X. “The obstructive approach and unrealistic demands of the other party are the principal reasons why these talks could not succeed.”

In a statement, OLA accused the government of failing to address the “fundamental problems that underlie the county´s seemingly insurmountable security and political challenges”.

The East African trade bloc IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) said on Wednesday it was “optimistic” about further talks. Its executive secretary Workneh Gebeyehu appealed to the parties “to uphold their commitment to the peace process in the best interest of the people of Ethiopia”.

“IGAD will continue to remain seized of the situation and stands ready to provide unwavering support to both sides in their pursuit of a peaceful resolution to the situation,” the statement said.

The government struck a peace deal in November 2022 to end the conflict in Tigray after tens of thousands of people were killed and millions displaced. But conflict has raged elsewhere.

Besides Oromiya, fighting in the neighbouring Amhara region between government forces and local militiamen has killed hundreds of people since late July. Tensions have been rising since April, when the federal government announced it was dismantling regional forces nationwide, triggering protests by Amhara nationalists who said the move would weaken their region.

The fierce fighting has seen the federal forces – known as the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) – battle local Fano fighters. Fano, an informal armed group with no publicly known command structure that draws volunteers from the local population, was an ally in the ENDF’s war against Tigray.

Source: News Agencies