ONLF Press Conference 

ONLF positions regarding the current situation and transition to peace in Ethiopia.

The Somali Regional state (Ogaden) has been the scene of conflict both inter states and Intra-state. That conflict has brought immeasurable devastation and marginalisation to the Somali people and has adversely affected the well-being and development of the Regional state, the federal state and the wider Horn of Africa.

In 1984, ONLF was formed by the Youth, Women, and some Intellectuals in order to return the destiny of Ogaden to the people.

When change came to Ethiopia in 1991, and the respect of self-determination was declared in the transitional mechanism which the transitional government was based upon, the Somali people and their vanguard organisation- ONLF decided to pursue their rights through peaceful means and participate in then proposed democratisation of Ethiopia and the creation of Federal states that have the right to exercise their self-determination through self-rule and rebuilding their own governance institutions, while having full say in the federal structures.

ONLF participated in the 1992 elections in the Somali state and won a landslide majority and started constructing the self-government institutions. From the beginning, the transitional government started hampered ONLF efforts to reconstruct the nascent Somali Self-government and within two years, conflicted erupted and ONLF was attacked and banned.

For the last 27 years, the Somali state has been a conflict zone that brought untold suffered to the Somali people and caused the loss of many lives on all sides.

When Premier Abi took power and rescinded many oppressive laws and called all liberation fronts and opposition parties for dialogue, reconciliation, and peace, ONLF responded and declared a unilateral ceasefire. Subsequently, negotiations started, and the Federal government and ONLF signed a peace agreement. Then both sides, took effective measures to end the war. Thus, ONLF genuine commitment to peace and fulfilling the peace agreement to the letter made the Somali regional state, the most peaceful area in Ethiopia and whole of Horn of Africa.

Having laid the background, ONLF would like today to clarify its position regarding keys issues that will have impact on the peace, democracy and progress in Ogaden, Ethiopia in general and the Horn of Africa:

ONLF

1. is fully committed to the peace process and categorically declares that it will pursue the rights of the Somali people and other nations in Ethiopia through peaceful, democratic, political means. Hence, ONLF will target peace-building, good-governance and, reconstruction and ensuring that the Somali people get their full rights including the achievement of full measure of genuine Self-rule.

2. believes that the nations in Ethiopia had shed their blood for more than a century and had paid a heavy price to achieve self-determination and self-rule which was recognized legally in 1995, in the present constitution. That right is sacrosanct, and the current federal system is the minimum safeguard for peaceful coexistence among all the nations in Ethiopia.

Therefore, any attempt to dismantle it or water it down will be resisted by all those who paid a heavy price to attain it, especially the Somali people who were always the most marginalised and repeatedly, brutally massacred.

3. believes that the Federal arrangement is still incomplete and needs to be improved and the rights in the constitution regarding the federation be implemented fully.

4. that all nations are not equal in the federal structures and decision-making process, therefore, ONLF hopes that remedial action to equalise all will be initiated and implemented soon.

5. Is intent on taking an active part in the democratic transition in Ethiopia, therefore It will participate in the coming elections.

6. Position is that the elections shall be held on time. And If for any reason, the election is postponed, a transitional power-sharing mechanism to be negotiated, while not dismantling the current government and creating chaos or vacuum.

7. Believes that Premier Abiy is genuine in bringing peaceful democratic change in Ethiopia, therefore, ONLF fully supports his efforts and will work with the federal government in the democratisation processes. However, ONLF is concerned about the role the Somali people are playing in shaping the federal agenda and would like to see more representation of Somali people in the decision-making process of the state. In particular, the federal government shall consult key Somali stakeholders, when nominating Somalis to important positions or Key committees or when reaching key decisions that will affect the people.

8. Urges both the federal government, the regional government, and international donors to bolster the peace-building process, following international standards and allocate adequate funding to conflict areas in order to capitalise on the window of opportunity for peace that the current climate has brought. Maintaining peace is extremely hard, unless proper mechanisms of rehabilitation, reconstruction, resettlement of refugees, proper dealing with the past and good governance are in place. Experiences gained from other conflict transformation and peace-building process in other countries could beneficial.

9. Believes that all nations in Ethiopia and the neighbouring Horn of Africa shall live in peace and engage in mutually beneficial trade and other mutually beneficial joint endeavours, Therefore, ONLF will take part in that process in a constructive way. Furthermore, ONLF urges the federal government to bolster the reconciliation processes in border regions between Somali, Oromia and Afar regions and other states and ONLF is playing a constructive role and would like to do more.

10. The Somali Regional state and its people are important stakeholders in Somali inhabited states in the Horn of Africa and ONLF strongly urges that The Ethiopian government foreign policy in dealing with those states to take into consideration the interests of the people in the Somali regional state and consult them properly regarding those policies.

11. The Somali people in the Somali Regional state are emerging from a conflict that has brought untold suffering and loss. ONLF and the people will not allow any group to set up shop in the Somali state and operate there. ONLF and all stakeholders will take all necessary measures to safeguard the peace and stability of the state, whatever the cost.

12. Finally, ONLF would like to inform the Federal government, the regional Somali state and the international community that the Somali region which has been adversely affected by the conflict and natural calamity is in dire need of urgent humanitarian aid, especially after the Gu’ rains failing in many parts and the economy of the region did not fully recover from the last draught which decimated more than half of the livestock, which is the back bone of the economy of the region.

End of Text
ONLF
Addis Ababa.

 

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