Ethiopian officials led by Ahmed Shide, Federal communication minister & Chairman of the Somali People’s Democratic Party (SPDP), and representatives of the the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) led by its Chairman Admiral Mohamed Omar have discussed “modalities of peace talks in Asmara [Eritrea] today,” according to Yemane G. Meskel, Eritrea’s Information Minister.
The discussion, which was also attended by Mustafa Omer, the newly appointed deputy president of the Somali regional state, focused on “ways of resolving the longstanding conflict in Somali Region,” a statement from the ONLF said. “The parties have reached a common understanding on the issues discussed and way forward. They agreed to work together peacefully to protect the interests of the people of the Somali Region and collaborate on national issues including the future of Horn of Africa integration,” ONLF said in a twitter post.
The short post from ONLF added “the substantive talks will be finalized soon.”
The ONLF is one of the oldest separatist rebel groups established in 1984. The group has been on Ethiopia’s terror list until recently when the Ethiopian parliament removed three opposition rebel groups: OLF, PG7 and ONLF, off the list.
On August 12, ONLF declared a unilateral ceasefire and some of its members have returned to Ethiopia. However, this is the first formal peace talk between ONLF and the Ethiopian government.
Speaking to Bloomberg News a day before talk begin today, “We want to achieve self-determination recognized by international law under the current Ethiopian constitution,” Ahmed Yassin Abdi, ONLF’s foreign secretary, said ONLF “will demand a referendum on self-determination…during landmark peace talks with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government.” “We want to achieve self-determination recognized by international law under the current Ethiopian constitution,” Ahmed was quoted as saying.