Wikileaks: Reconciliation with the OLF

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A series of cables detail reconciliation efforts between GoE and the OLF that took place in 2008/2009. These cables describe two parallel efforts, one by Professor Efrem Issac and Pastor Daniel Gebresellasie, which seems to have been rebuffed by the OLF at least until the involvement of Ababiya, former head of OLF, and another by a group of prominent Oromo individuals (Ato Berhanu Dinka, Rev. Eteffa Gobana Molte, and Ato Abera Tola), which seems to have had some traction.  The second group was able to get a signed statement from Oromo elders throughout Ethiopia asking the OLF to come to the negotiating table.  Dawd Ibsa, the head of OLF, had previously agreed to the precondition Meles had set for negotiations to start (i.e. acceptance of the constitution). The OLF central committee, on the other hand, was unwilling to agree to Meles’s demand on the grounds that no preconditions should be set.  Eritrea’s influence over the OLF leadership is also cited as another obstacle for talks between the two sides.  The three elders believed the signed request from community leaders would exert enough pressure on the OLF leadership to come around.

In the end, things don’t seem to have progressed very far.  While these elders engaged the OLF with Meles’s blessing, the EPRDF/GoE undercut the negotiations by undertaking a campaign of suppression  in Oromia arresting those they said were connected to the OLF (see GOE CLAMPS DOWN ON OROMOS, OPPOSITION PARTIES). These actions led the embassy to question whether EPRDF was serious about reconciliation. The elders had different theories for why the suppression was taking place.  They surmised that it could be the work of the OPDO, who saw themselves as the biggest losers if an OLF-EPRDF agreement took place.  Another theory was that this was Meles’s way of indicating to the OPDO that he wasn’t serious about reconciling with the OLF. In any event, the cables are silent about these efforts after January 2009.

9 Sep 2008
Oromo Elders Believe Reconciliation Breakthrough Possible

24 Nov 2008
Reconciling The Oromo Liberation Front And Ethiopian Government

20 Jan 2009
Former Olf Head Ababiya Seeks GoE-OLF Reconciliation
Related Cables
20 Nov 2008
GOE CLAMPS DOWN ON OROMOS, OPPOSITION PARTIES

5 Nov 2008, Embassy Asmara
OLF Chairman Survives “Coup Attempt”

24 Jun 2008, Embassy Asmara
OLF Claims To Be Fighting For Democracy

Wed, 11 Jan 2006
Ethiopia: Meles On Internal Situation
Only a small part of this cable discusses the OLF.  It suggests a previous failed attempt at reconciliation. It reads:

Meles lamented that he thought he had struck a deal with OLF leader Lencho in Bonn in which the OLF would respect the constitution, give up violence and become a peaceful political competitor of the EPRDF. However, when violence erupted and the EPRDF looked weak, the OLF had gone back on the agreement and called for insurrection. Nevertheless, differences between the government and OLF were not irreconcilable. Meles confirmed that he remained open to renewing the discussion. All Lencho had to do was contact him — and “he knows how to do that.”

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