Peace Accord signed between the FDRE Government and the ONLF
The government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the leaders of the Ogaden National Liberation Movement (ONLF) have signed a peace agreement providing for the termination of the ONLF‘s 18-year-long insurgency in the Somali Regional State of Ethiopia. The signing of the agreement was the culmination of a series of negotiations between the two sides over several months. It has been welcomed as a landmark to pave the way for further consolidation of the overall political and economic development in the region by removing the major stumbling block that has, for nearly two decades, denied the region the full measure of socio-economic development and good governance that other regions of the country have been able to carry out. Dr Shiferaw Tekle Mariam, Minister of Federal Affairs, signed the agreement to represent the government, while the ONLF was represented by Engineer Salahudin Abdurrahman Mao’w, current chairman of the organization. Speaking during the occasion, Dr Shiferaw hailed the decision of the ONLF leadership to lay down their arms as “bold and courageous” and reiterated the government’s readiness to do everything in its capacity to see that the ONLF leaders and their followers are rehabilitated and given every opportunity to contribute to the overall development in the country in general and in the Somali Regional State in particular. He pointed out that the government will be giving amnesty to all ONLF members that are currently serving prison sentences for atrocities committed in the last 18 years. He expressed his hope that other groups inclined to make similar gestures for peace will be treated in the same way.
Speaking on behalf of the ONLF, Engineer Salahudin expressed his thanks to the Federal Government and to the Government of the Somali Regional State for giving the all necessary support to facilitate the peace process. He expressed regret at the loss of life and destruction of property as well as the missed chances for enhanced development following the insurgency waged by his organization. He promised to do everything possible to contribute to the sustainability of the peace accord and to work genuinely together with both the Federal and the Regional governments to make sure that the peace is not disrupted by any agents of destabilization who might still harbour illusions that war is the solution to resolving political differences. More specifically, addressing the few remnants of the ONLF abroad who are still serving the agenda of the government of Asmara, he warned them that the people of the region were fed up with the insurgency and that any further attempts by such elements would be crushed immediately. He called on members of the Somali Region’s Diaspora to withdraw any support from such elements and to encourage them to join in the current successful peaceful process. He expressed his hope and expectation that the development activities so prevalent in other regions of Ethiopia would now be able to gather momentum in the Somali region. Engineer Salahudin expressed an apology to the peoples of the region and of Ethiopia for the destructive activities and atrocities perpetrated by the ONLF in the past and promised to do everything possible now to meet and satisfy the aspirations of the people of the region through peaceful means and civilized dialogue.
Also speaking on the occasion was Ato Abay Tsehaye, National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister. Ato Abaye expressed his appreciation for the heroic decision taken by the ONLF leadership, in opting for peace and renouncing violence as a means of achieving political ends. He pointed out that ONLF’s cause had only been confined to a limited portion of the people of the region and even that limited support had collapsed once people had realized that the ONLF’s agenda was not in their interest. He emphasized the role of the people of the region, of the Ethiopian Defence Forces and of the Regional Government in creating a conducive environment for the signing of the peace agreement. He reaffirmed the government’s commitment to ensure the viability and sustainability of peace in the region and its determination to consolidate the gains made so far in economic development and good governance. He reiterated again that anyone who had illusions about the use of violence as a means of achieving political ends would be better advised to follow the footsteps of the ONLF. The people of the region, he emphasized, have clearly rejected violence. The government will do everything in its power to prevent any further attempt to disrupt peace in the region.
Similar remarks were also made by the Somali Regional President, Abdi Mahamoud Omar, and by representatives of the ONLF from Europe and North America as well as clan leaders and elders representing a cross section of the region’s population. Referring to Admiral Mohamed Omar Osman, the former head of the Somali navy, and a group of former Somali army generals, all now based in Eritrea, speaker after speaker emphasized that anyone who threatened to continue any insurgency was only advancing an outside agenda with no relevance to the people of the region. All speakers were in complete agreement that violence had no place in the region.