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US Special Envoy Mike Hammer meets with Oromo opposition leaders, discusses political challenges

On Monday, 13 May 2024, Mike Hammer, serving as the U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa (middle), participated in dialogues with Merera Gudina, chairperson of the Oromo Federalist Congress (right), and Dawud Ibsa, the leader of the Oromo Liberation Front, focusing on political matters (Photo: Social Media)

Addis Abeba – Mike Hammer, the U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, engaged in discussions with notable opposition party leaders regarding the present political circumstances in Ethiopia as a whole, with a specific emphasis on the Oromia region.

Among the political figures who conversed with Hammer on Monday, 13 May, 2024, were Merera Gudina, the chairperson of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), and Dawud Ibsa, the leader of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).

In an interview with the Addis Standard, Merera highlighted that the conversation centered on “fundamental political issues concerning Ethiopia as a whole and Oromia specifically.”

The chairman indicated that he provided the envoy with an overview of the overall political landscape in the nation.

According to Merera, the national dialogue process was a particular point of discussion. The chairman stated that he informed Hammer that “the national dialogue is not going to get the country anywhere, as it lacks inclusiveness and lacks trust among the general populace.”

Merera disclosed that the recent assassination of Batte Urgessa, a political officer of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), was also a topic of discussion. Merera cited Hammer, expressing shock at “Batte’s murder and the detention of his family members.”

Lemi Gemechu, OLF spokesperson, posted on X (formerly Twitter) that Hammer also held talks with the OLF Chairman, Dawud Ibsa, chairperson of the OLF, at the United States Embassy in Addis Abeba.

“Ambassador Hammer and Chairman Dawud had extensive discussions on crucial matters about the current political and security issues in Ethiopia. The Ambassador expressed his heartfelt condolences regarding the recent killing of the OLF political officer, Batte,” the spokesperson tweeted.

The spokesperson further stated, “Dawud Ibsa briefed the Ambassador on critical issues such as the difficult political terrain the OLF had come through and the seriously difficult situation.”

According to the tweet, the OLF Chairperson asked “for an immediate and unconditional release of OLF leaders who were unlawfully held in prison for years, the re-opening of OLF offices with unfettered access throughout Oromia, and the release of all political prisoners throughout the country.”

The spokesperson said Ambassador Hammer acknowledged the “intimidating” and “difficult” situation the OLF has been facing, as briefed by Dawud Ibsa, and said he assured the OLF Chairman that the United States Government is diligently working to resolve the multifaceted conflicts in Ethiopia.

Hammer is in Ethiopia as part of a regional tour from 8 – 19 May. According to the U.S. State Department, Hammer will meet with the African Union, Ethiopian officials, and the Interim Regional Administration of Tigray to discuss the implementation of the Pretoria Cessation of Hostilities Agreement.

The State Department stated that Hammer will also dialogue to end violence in the Oromia and Amhara regions of Ethiopia and investigate reports of human rights violations in these areas. AS

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