In a piece I wrote following the renouncement , I expressed my suspicion that the timing of the announcement leads us to suspect that this might be just a public relations stunt on the part of the regime. It now appears that that suspicion is sadly realized. The ONLF had gambled, mainly because it trusted the Kenyan mediators. By leading its base to believe that this was a serious undertaking, the ONLF now stands to disappoint them and which will ship away the Front’s credibility.
On the other-side, the cadres left behind by Meles seem to fully embrace his signature thinking; never worry about the long term consequences of short term gains made from tactical maneuvering. As hope is repeatedly dashed and trust is irreparably damaged, this childish game is bound to further complicate one of the longest lasting conflict in Ethiopia, leading to catastrophic consequences for all stakeholders.
To read my previous piece on this issue, click here
Below is the press release from the Ethiopian Embassy in Nairobi which pronounces the negotiation dead and the ONLF communique that calls ‘stalled’
The Government of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia held a peace talks with faction of the ONLF led by Gen. Mohamed Omar Osman from 15th to 17th October 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya. The meeting was a continuation of earlier peace talks started two months ago in Nairobi. It is to be recalled that a peace agreement has been signed with the major section of the group in 2010.
The peace talks failed after the ONLF group refused to accept and respect the constitution of Ethiopia and work within the constitutional framework. This round of the peace talks was part of the Ethiopian Government’s resolve to pursue a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
The Ethiopian delegation was led by H.E. Siraj Fegessa, Minister of Defence of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.
17th October 2012
Communique – The Peace Talks Between the ONLF and the Ethiopian Government Stall
October 17, 2012
The second round of peace talks between the Ogaden National Liberation Front and the Ethiopian government mediated by Kenya was held in Nairobi between 15 to 17 October 2012. Abdirahman Mahdi, ONLF Foreign Bureau Secretary, led the ONLF delegation. The Ethiopian delegation was led by the Defense Minister Seraj Fegesa. The Kenyan government mediation team was led by Kenyan Defense Minister H.E. Mohamed Yusuf Haji. The Kenyan government hosted the talks.
The Ethiopian government requested the Kenyan government to facilitate talks with the ONLF. Then the Kenyan government approached ONLF, who accepted the invitation to engage in the process in a genuine and principled way.
In the first formal talks, the process went smoothly and the parties reached an agreement on the modalities, general principles and an agenda for the talks.
In the second round of the talks, the Ethiopian government delegation did not respect the principles agreed upon. These stated that “the holding of negotiations must be in accordance with mutually acceptable principles and no preconditions shall be made to negate the inherent character and purpose of the peace negotiations.” Instead the Ethiopian delegation tabled a contentious issue that was a key element of the conflict, by insisting that the continuation of the talks depends on the ONLF accepting the Ethiopian constitution. Unfortunately, the Ethiopian delegation blocked any attempts for the talks to move forward by imposing this precondition.
The ONLF position on the constitution is that it must reflect the will of the people and that the Somali people never exercised a referendum on the constitution. ONLF believes that the solution of the conflict in the Ogaden can only be achieved by accepting the principles of the right to exercise their self-determination without any preconditions or restrictions.
The peace process is supposed to address differences between the two sides on all issues. The ONLF proposed that the parties continue to talk in the spirit of the initial agreement and start with confidence building measures that will lay a fruitful and conducive environment for tackling the impasse at a later stage.
The ONLF is willing to continue engaging in a principled peace process with the Ethiopian government.
Issued By ONLF