Ethiopia’s Government to Initiate Peace Talks with Oromo Liberation Army (OLA)
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced on Sunday that peace negotiations with the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) would begin on Tuesday in Tanzania. The OLA is a rebel group active in Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest and most populous region, which surrounds the capital, Addis Ababa. The Prime Minister emphasized the urgent need for negotiations and called for everyone’s support. In response, the OLA confirmed the government’s acceptance of their conditions for peace talks, including third-party mediation and transparency throughout the process. They also expressed relief that the government had finally agreed to engage in peaceful dialogue.
Details regarding the mediator, location, and format of the talks have not been disclosed. Prime Minister Abiy’s announcement came during a ceremony for participants and sponsors of the Tigray peace process. A peace agreement was signed on November 2, ending two years of conflict between the Ethiopian government and regional authorities in Tigray, who had rebelled against the federal government.
The OLA, which has been fighting the Ethiopian government since its split from the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) in 2018, has evolved into a loosely connected network of armed groups. Its strength has grown significantly in recent years, though it is not considered a significant threat to the federal government due to its limited organization and weaponry.
Oromia has experienced complex internal struggles, territorial disputes, and communal animosities, leading to ethnic massacres, particularly in the remote Wollegas region. The Amhara ethnic group has been a primary target in the region. The OLA has consistently denied responsibility for these massacres, despite accusations from the government. The government’s indiscriminate repression has fueled resentment among the Oromo population against the federal government in Addis Ababa.