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News: OFC calls for all-around ceasefire, peace talks between OLA, fed. gov’t

Addis Abeba – The Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) issued the first-ever statement after holding its general assembly last weekend. The party urged the federal government to hold talks with the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA).  The statement stressed the need to start negotiations with armed groups and remove all legal obstacles that prevent their participation in the planned dialogue. 

“We urge the federal government to commit without delay to ending the conflict with the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) through peaceful means, in the same way it extended an olive branch to the Tigray region. We underscore that it is impossible to guarantee peace and stability in Ethiopia without an Oromia that is at peace,” the statement read. OFC also called for the release of political prisoners including members of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). 

Full Statement 

We, the participants in the 2nd Convention of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), held March 17-18, 2022, in Finfinne, have deliberated on various issues concerning our party and country. Having considered the struggle the Oromo have waged for half a century, assessed the progress OFC has made in the last twenty-five years, evaluated the success and failures of the process of change in the last four years, and deliberated on the challenges that have befallen our country and our people, we have formulated a strategy and direction for our party’s struggle in the coming years. At the end of our convention, we have issued the following statement.

1.  We had hoped that the change that the Oromo qeerroo and qarree brought with their sacrifices would transition our country to a new dispensation of democracy and peace. Unfortunately, the transition has been scuttled. As a result, the hope of a democratic transition has now given way to despair, civil war and the specter of disintegration. This has deeply saddened us. The mistakes of the last four years and the negative consequences that followed testify that, to save the country from falling apart, returning our country to the path of building a democratic multinational state is a choice without alternative. Even though we paid a high price for it, the turn of events has vindicated the correctness of the political stand our party and leadership took.

2.   We are deeply disturbed by the civil war of the last three years that has claimed the lives of innocents, destroyed properties, and violated the dignity of citizens. We welcome the government’s decision to shift its approach from beating the drumbeats of war to seeking a peaceful solution to the civil war. We call on both the federal government and the Tigray regional government to move from the rhetoric of peacemaking and immediately reach an agreement for the cessation of hostilities to allow unfettered humanitarian access and commit to not reignite the conflict. 

3.     Even though we are heartened by the effort to end the conflict in the northern part of the country, we are disappointed that the civil war that has been waged in Oromia for more than three years has not received the attention it deserves. Therefore, we urge the federal government to commit without delay to ending the conflict with the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) through peaceful means, in the same way it extended an olive branch to the Tigray region. We underscore that it is impossible to guarantee peace and stability in Ethiopia without an Oromia that is at peace.

4.   Our party has been imploring the government to convene a national dialogue to resolve the very political differences that led to the ongoing civil war. No one bothered to heed our counsel. Today, after thousands of lives had been lost and properties worth millions of dollars had been destroyed, the government has conceded the need for a national dialogue. Nevertheless, as we have announced in a series of press statements, the prevailing situation is not conducive for conducting a successful national dialogue in the midst of a raging civil war. We do not believe that a national dialogue that does not include all stakeholders and is led by a neutral body can resolve all outstanding issues facing the country. Yet, if there is a will and determination to conduct a successful national dialogue, the following issues must be addressed. 

a.   End the hostilities and reach an agreement for a permanent ceasefire in all regions of the country.

b.   All political prisoners without preconditions, specifically the leaders of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and the OFC who are currently languishing in prisons must be released.

c.  The government must enter into negotiations with the forces that are currently engaged in a civil war to end the conflict, remove all legal obstacles that prevent their participation, and must be invited to participate in the dialogue. 

d.   The proclamation that authorized the national dialogue must be prepared by a consensus and the commissioners leading the dialogue must be selected by the potential participants.

5.  At the moment, millions of our fellow compatriots are displaced and exposed to the dangers of famine. We urge the Ethiopian government to work in coordination with international humanitarian organizations to deliver much needed humanitarian assistance to save lives. At the same time, we urge international humanitarian organizations to ensure that the aid they generously donate reaches the victims without being embezzled or diverted to private interests.

Finally, we call on our Oromo compatriots to work assiduously to strengthen their unity and their solidarity with other nations. Dispatch

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