Addis Abeba – Responding to questions raised by members of the House of People’s Representatives during the house’s 14th regular session, PM Abiy Ahmed said armed groups operating in Oromia and Amhara regions should lay down weapons and engage in peaceful talks to resolve ongoing conflicts.
Without offering details, the PM once again said his government continues its “readiness to engage in dialogue” with all dissenting armed groups operating in the country.
Despite offering an olive branch, however, he stated that his government’s priority was to ensure the continuation of “the law enforcement”, but if there are groups ready for dialogue, “our door is open.”
He further stated that in Ethiopia the past 50 years saw the practice of using guns to achieve political gains, instead of relying on organizing ideas; that has “created an obstacle” to bring lasting peace. “Problems can be solved only through dialogue,” he said, adding “in Ethiopia, it is no longer possible to come to power using guns.”
“Peace is essential to all that we aspire to achieve,” the PM asserted, highlighting failure to express political interests through peaceful means, dwindling commitment to reconciliation efforts and the tendency to sabotage outcomes of peace talks with traps as key issues disrupting the country’s efforts to have peace.
According to the PM, there has been no decisive progress worth public announcement made during recent peace talks with the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA). “If they come to their senses and show willingness to negotiate by upholding the country’s laws, we are always ready,” he noted.
But he accused the group whom he referred to as “Shene” of being behind the rising incidents of killings, abductions and looting of civilians in the Oromia region whom “they claim to fight for.”
“It is not appropriate to say that [you lead] the same people that you killed and kidnapped…” the PM said.
Two rounds of talks to end the five-year militarized conflict in Oromia region between government forces and forces of the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) often referred to as “Shane” by the government ended without agreement.
In the Amhara region, PM Abiy Ahmed stated that during discussions held in all zones of the region, he identified three main popular grievances: development, constitutional amendment, and issues related to demarcation of boundaries.
Detailing his government’s attempts to address these demands, the PM highlighted construction of roads, bridges and tourist destinations in Amhara region over the past five years, emphasizing the construction of a unique bridge on the Nile River in the regional capital Bahir Dar which required an investment of 2.4 billion birr.
He said the issue of constitutional amendment will be addressed through the National Dialogue Commission, while expressing the government’s strong desire to solve the issues related to boundaries through dialogue and referendum aiming to achieve lasting peace.
In Tigray, PM Abiy Ahmed highlighted the achievements made as part of the implementation of the Pretoria Agreement, including the resumption of air transport, the restoration of telecom services with an investment of 100 million Birr, and the provision of 10 billion Birr in cash by the National Bank to support banking services in the region.
Additionally, 217 factories have resumed operations, and educational and health institutions are providing services. However, he admitted that there are still remaining tasks that require further cooperation and dialogue.
Last week, following the release of a statement by the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) urging the full implementation of the Pretoria Peace Agreement, the federal government claimed it “reaffirmed its unwavering commitment” to addressing challenges in the Tigray region through the comprehensive execution of the accord. AS