Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced Tuesday that his government will begin talks with the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) in Tanzania.
This is the first time the Ethiopian government has openly stated its willingness to deal with the OLA, which has been at odds with the government for decades.
“A negotiation with Oneg Shene will start a day after tomorrow in Tanzania,” Abiy said on Sunday, using another name for the OLA.
OLA spokesman Odaa Tarbii did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The OLA is an outlawed splinter group of the Oromo Liberation Front, a formerly banned opposition party that returned from exile after Abiy took office in 2018. The group’s grievances are rooted in alleged marginalisation Of the Oromo people and neglect by the federal government.
The OLA and the federal government blame each other for a number of attacks in Ethiopia’s Oromiya region, the country’s most populous, in which scores of civilians have been killed.
In February, the state-appointed human rights commission said at least 50 people were killed in an attack it blamed on the OLA.
In October, the OLA and another Oromo group blamed the Ethiopian government for airstrikes they said had killed a number of civilians.
“The people of Ethiopia and the government eagerly need this negotiation,” Abiy said at a ceremony honouring a previous peace deal achieved between the federal government and forces in the Tigray region, where fighting had erupted in November 2020 and ended in November 2022.
The fighting between the OLA and the federal government is separate to the fighting in Tigray, but the OLA forged an alliance with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in 2021.