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Peace Talks Between Ethiopia, Oromo Rebels in Tanzania Collapse – Again

Parties to the conflict fail to reach a mutual agreement, further threatening the security in Ethiopia.

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Dar es Salaam. Ethiopian media reported Wednesday that a second round of peace talks between the warring Ethiopian government and the Oromo Liberation Army that concluded in Dar es Salaam recently failed to produce an agreement between the two parties.

The November talks followed the first round of peace negotiations between the two parties, which kicked off on April 25, 2023. The discussions followed a commitment by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to ending the decades-long fighting that has claimed thousands of lives.

Facilitated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the second round of peace talks involved high-profile figures in the conflict, including Kumsa Diriba, the commander of the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), who is popularly known as Jaal Marroo.

There was hope among observers that the talks would yield something substantive this time, given the failure of the first round of negotiations in Zanzibar to produce any tangible outcome. 

However, reports from several Ethiopian media suggest that no substantive agreement was achieved during the just-concluded talks, creating fear that Ethiopia may remain unstable for an unseeable future.

READ MORE: Ethiopia’s Oromo Rebels in Tanzania for Second Round of Peace Talks

National Security Advisor to Mr Ahmed, Redwan Hussein, attributed the failure of talks to the OLA’s “intransigence” and “unrealistic demands,” emphasising that the Ethiopian government’s negotiation approach was grounded in principles of national sovereignty, territorial integrity, and respect for constitutional norms.

“The government has tried to be as flexible and accommodating as possible,” Hussein said in a statement shared on X. “Both on substantive and procedural matters, the government has tried to find mutually acceptable solutions and make concessions in the interest of peace.”

​​The OLA is an outlawed splinter group of the Oromo Liberation Front, a formerly banned opposition party that returned from exile after Mr Ahmed – himself an Oromo – took office in 2018.

Oromiya, which surrounds Addis Ababa, the capital, is home to Ethiopia’s largest ethnic Oromo group and more than a third of the country’s 110 million people.

The organisation accused the Ethiopian government of overlooking fundamental issues that fuel the country’s ongoing security and political challenges. 

In a statement, OLA accused the government of failing to address the “fundamental problems that underlie the county´s seemingly insurmountable security and political challenges.”

For his part, Dr Workneh Gebeyehu, IGAD’s executive secretary, called for a renewed commitment to the peace process, emphasising the importance of dialogue in conflict resolution.

“IGAD will continue to remain seized of the situation and stands ready to provide unwavering support to both sides in their pursuit of a peaceful resolution to the situation,” the statement quoted him as saying.

READ MORE: Warring Ethiopian Govt, Oromo Liberation Army to Start Negotiations in Tanzania

The Oromo conflict dates back to the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) formation in 1973. The OLF evolved from the Bale Revolt in the 1960s in response to powerful groups’ perceived injustices against the Oromo people.

Peace talks gained momentum in 2022 as both warring parties signalled a willingness to end the conflict that has destroyed countless lives and caused immeasurable destruction in the Oromia region.

The negotiations come after Ethiopia also ended a deadly conflict in the Tigray region where thousands of people were killed.

In the neighbouring Amhara state, recent clashes also left hundreds of people dead, triggering more pressure for a national dialogue forum in the country. Abiy Ahmed won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for his efforts to end conflicts in the Horn of Africa.

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