On Sunday 21 October, the government of Ethiopia and the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) signed a peace deal in the Eritrean capital Asmara, that officially ended one of the oldest arms struggles in Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian delegation was led by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Workneh Gebeyehu, whereas the ONLF side was led by the Front’s Chairman, Admiral Mohamed Umer Usman. The two held a productive discussion and reached a historic deal that allowed the ONLF to undertake peaceful political struggle in Ethiopia. Indeed, this is the beginning of a new chapter of peace and stability in Ethiopia, particularly in Somali regional state, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
The ONLF had launched its bid for the secession of the Somali Region, also known as Ogaden, in eastern Ethiopia in 1984.
Earlier this year, the parliament removed the ONLF from a list of banned movements as part of a reform drive being led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has extended an olive branch to several armed groups. The ONLF declared a ceasefire in August.
The agreement stipulates that both sides would end hostilities and that the ONLF would “pursue its political obligations through peaceful means”.
The two sides will now form a joint committee to discuss the root causes of the conflict, the agreement said.
The Ogaden region contains four trillion cubic feet of gas and oil deposits, the government says. China’s POLY-GCL Petroleum has been developing two gas fields there since 2013.