Obama should Press Ethiopia and ONLF to Reach a Sustainable Peace Deal on Ogaden Conflic
Dear Mr. President
Since late 18th century, the Ogaden territory has been a source of conflict in the Horn of Africa. Somalia and Ethiopia has fought at least two wars (in 1964 and 1977) over who should rule the Ogaden -a Somali inhabited territory currently under Ethiopian administration. The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Party (EPRDF) are the latest stakeholders in this conflict.
Although both EPRDF and ONLF were members of the transitional government formed in early 90s after the fall of the Derg regime in 1991, ONLF fell away from the coalition after EPRDF allegedly targeted its senior officials in multiple assassination bid due to their demand for region-wide referendum for the Ogaden question.
Since the of fall out of the parties, there has been many attempts to negotiate and reach a sustainable deal that once and for all will return political stability to the region. These efforts were initiated and sometimes mediated by both internal elements in the region as well as external nations and international organizations. The latest and still ongoing mediation is facilitated by Kenya.
Unlike past meetings, the late EPRDF leader, Meles Zenawi, is said to have been determined to reach an agreement with ONLF officials. Unfortunately, he passed away without seeing the fruits of peace in Ogaden. The ONLF leadership seem this time equally determined to settle their dispute with Ethiopia offering EPRDF the most reasonable terms of agreement, namely an open declaration by ONLF that they accept the constitution of Ethiopia as it is (see also here), a demand the EPRDF led government has always used as a precondition to any agreement with ONLF.
Although the latest negotiations in Nairobi and signals from both sides gave a reason for optimism, no progress has so far been achieved in these talks. The people of Ogaden who paid a heavy price as a result of the conflict have had high hopes for both parties to conclude a viable agreement. But it seems some powerful figures within the EPRDF elite are resisting any change to the status quo as they see a lasting peace in Ogaden and in Ethiopia in general to be against their interest. These individuals are so powerful that even many high ranking Ethiopian officials who otherwise would love to see an agreement with ONLF do not dare to push for this too much lest they antagonize the few, but powerful figures not interested in peace in Ogaden.
Your excellency, the President of the United States, we, the citizens of Ogaden, appeal to you as the head of United States and Nobel laureate in Peace to raise and promote the Ogaden peace deal with both EPRDF led Ethiopian government in Addis Ababa as well as the ONLF. We kindly ask you as our son from Horn of Africa to use your position and influence to push for peace in this region, particularly in Ogaden.
Concerned and peace loving citizens from Ogaden/Ethiopia.