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Ethiopian Minister Says Rebels Agree to Disarm

  • James Butty

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi

Communications Minister Bereket Simon says a faction of the ONLF rebels has decided to operate with the constitutional framework

An Ethiopian government minister said a rebel group that has been fighting for a separate state in the country’s Ogaden region has agreed to lay down its arms.

Communications Minister Bereket Simon says the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) has decided to work within the constitutional framework.

“A certain faction from the ONLF has decided to operate within the constitutional framework. They want to continue as a legally functioning party and contend for power. That will be guaranteed and respected,” he said.

But a spokesman for the ONLF was quoted in published reports as saying the claim of a peace deal was all Ethiopian government propaganda.

Simon said the ONLF has started to realize the futile nature of continuing with their armed struggle.

He said the armed groups have also decided to get on the bandwagon of the government's development agenda that he said has been taking place in the Ogaden region.

“What is transpiring currently is that most of the members of these groups have started to see the futile nature of continuing in a violent way. They have seen massive development work is taking place in their region,” he said.

Simon said some of the development work taking place in the Ogaden includes new universities, roads, irrigation, and airports.

He said Ethiopians want to put the past behind them, and as such, the members of any armed groups that lay down their arms will not be prosecuted.