Ethiopian separatist group gives up secession demand

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

January 4, 2012 (ADDIS ABABA) - Ethiopian rebel group, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), which has been fighting to gain autonomy for the Oromoia region said it is no longer demanding independence from the Horn of Africa’s nation.

The surprise move comes after almost four decades of struggle for the separation of the vast southern region.

The OLF have vowed to work for unity and freedom for the whole of Ethiopia, not just the Oromo people.

In a statement the OLF said “it will accept the new federal democratic republic of Ethiopia that will work for the betterment of all of its citizens, neighbouring countries and international communities”.

The Ethiopian government blames the OLF for over 106 deadly attacks on its territory.

The group was among the five domestic and international groups designated as terrorist entities by the Ethiopian government in June 2011. Other local political organisations labelled as terrorists were the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), and Ginbot 7.

The Al-Qaeda linked Somali Islamic militants Al-Shabab and the international terror network, Al-Qaeda itself were also placed in the country’s terror list.

The move by OLF is seen as a major step forward in journey to national reconciliation but some are questioning its authenticity.

There has been no official reaction from the Ethiopian government toward OLF’s decision. However, it is unlikely that Addis Ababa will readily change its stance towards the rebel movement.

Ethiopia has accused neighbouring Eritrea of arming and financing rebels such as the OLF and ONLF, an allegation that Asmara denies.