Ethiopia’s Somali regional state on Friday signed an agreement to disarm and reintegrate members of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) into the state’s security forces and civil service.
ONLF was one of the organisations that were previously labeled terrorist organisations, until the Abiy Ahmed led government introduced political reforms that called upon rebels and Ethiopians in exile to return home.
The Somali state and ONLF also agreed to work together to end decades of poverty, human rights abuse and maladministration of the Somali people, according to local media portal Addis Standard.
Hundreds of Somalis celebrated the historic agreement in the state’s capital of Jigjiga.
Update: A scene of jubilation in #Jigjiga, the capital of #Somali regional state. #ONLF was once branded a terrorist – by law. As history changed its course, today’s agreement was attended by hundreds of ordinary #Somalis as well as regional & federal authorities. #Ethiopia ?? pic.twitter.com/OqpByl9mJc— Addis Standard (@addisstandard) February 8, 2019
Below is a timeline of events leading up to Friday’s historic agreement;
- July 5, 2018: Ethiopia’s parliament removes ONLF from list of terrorist organisations
- August 12, 2018: ONLF declares unilateral ceasefire in Ogaden region
- September 18, 2018: Ethiopia govt holds peace talks with ONLF in Asmara, Eritrea
- November 21, 2018: ONLF rebels return to Ethiopia (Jigjiga) from their base in Eritrea
- December 1, 2018: ONLF leaders return from Eritrea to Ethiopia (Addis Ababa)
- February 8, 20148: ONLF disarms fighters, signs agreement with Somali state
Formed in 1984 amid a resurgence of separatist sentiment in the ethnically Somali Ogaden region on Ethiopia’s border with Somalia, ONLF describes itself as “a national liberation organisation that struggles for the rights of the Somali people in Ogaden and has no involvement whatsoever in Somalia’s multifaceted conflict at all.”
The Ogaden region is almost entirely populated by Muslim, Somali-speakers. The region has kept its own distinctive identity, doing the bulk of its trade with Somaliland, Somalia and the Middle East rather than the rest of “highland” Ethiopia.