Ethiopian government warns it may use force to disarm OLF

Source: Xinhua| 2018-10-11 02:10:02|Editor: yan
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ADDIS ABABA, Oct. 10 (Xinhua) -- The Ethiopian federal government on Wednesday urged ex-rebel movement Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) to disarm its fighters.

"The need for OLF and all other political groups to disarm, to engage in peaceful discourse is a non-negotiable stance of the government which has responsibility to ensure respect for the rule of law and security of its citizens," the Federal Government Communications Affairs Office (GCAO) said in a statement.

The Ethiopian government has invited various political groups and rebel movements to participate in the country's democratic process in a bid to foster political reconciliation and consensus, the statement said.

However, the statement said, OLF has yet to disarm all of its fighters, a precondition for all political groups to participate in peaceful political struggle in Ethiopia.

Over the weekend, OLF leader Dawud Ibsa told state-affiliated media outlet Walta TV that his movement has not negotiated with the Ethiopian government over the disarmament of its fighters as a precondition to participate in the political process of the country.

It is estimated there are around 2,800 OLF fighters based mainly in the western and southern parts of Oromia regional state, the principal operating ground of OLF.

OLF rebels have in recent months been accused of conducting deadly assaults on military and civilian targets, including the Sept. 26 killing of four government officials.

The movement claims it fights for political, social and economic rights of ethnic Oromos, who make up around a third of Ethiopia's estimated 105 million people.

Many ethnic Oromos have accused successive Ethiopian governments of ignoring their economic, political and social rights.

OLF was designated as a terrorist group by the Ethiopian parliament in 2011. It was removed from the terror list in July to help facilitate negotiations and foster reconciliation.