This week marks the start of Ethiopia’s negotiations with the Oromo rebel faction, as stated by the country’s officials.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced on Sunday that his government has initiated talks with a rebel group operating in the Oromia region, which is the largest and most populous region in Ethiopia surrounding the capital Addis Ababa.

“The peace negotiation that will be held with (the Oromo Liberation Army) will start the day after tomorrow in Tanzania,” said Abiy.

“The Ethiopian government and people will need this negotiation very much.

“I call upon everybody to play (their) part.”

The Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) officially split from the historic Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) in 2018 when it renounced armed struggle and has been fighting against the Ethiopian federal government since then.

Abiy made the announcement while addressing a gathering of parties to the Tigray peace process, which brought an end to a two-year conflict between the federal government and rebelling regional authorities on November 2.

There were no additional details on the format of the new talks, who would mediate or where they would be held. The OLA spokesman, Odaa Tarbii, did not respond immediately to an AFP request for comment.

Following the split of the Oromia rebel groups, several armed groups claimed to be one, but their ties were loose.

While the OLA’s strength was estimated to be only a few thousand men in 2018, observers believe that in recent years, it has grown significantly, although it remains insufficiently organised or well-armed to pose a real threat to the federal government.

In recent years, a number of ethnic massacres have been carried out in Oromia by unknown groups.

The government has repeatedly accused the OLA of being responsible for these massacres, while the OLA denies these accusations. It is also accused of waging an indiscriminate crackdown, which has fuelled Oromo resentment against the central government. AFP

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