Ethiopia PM says open for talks with OLA, doubts rebel group cohesion

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said his government is open for talks with Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) rebel group, but said he doubts the rebel group’s cohesion.

The PM made the statement earlier this week during a 90 minutes long discussion with Ethiopian academics that was broadcast on state media outlets. The discussion was held under the banner “academics for national prosperity” with hundreds of academics drawn from across Ethiopia.

“Those who asked for the peace in the north to be repeated in the west don’t think there is a closed door for Shene (the name given to the OLA rebels by the Ethiopian government),” Abiy said.

“Aba-Gedas (ethnic Oromo traditional elders) and local elders have tried, the option for peace is still open. We’re ready to be at peace with anybody, but killing farmers isn’t right and the wrong is being committed primarily for the people you are claiming to fight for,” the PM further said.

The PM claimed the OLA doesn’t have central command and leadership and as such cast doubts of any successful negotiations with the rebels.

“Which Shene is it? The Ambo Shene, the Dembi-Dolo Shene, the Guji Shene? Abiy told the academics.

Veering to other topics, the PM also claimed that his government doesn’t kill people, an apparent allusion to allegations of gross human rights abuses against his administration.

He also claimed the number of people killed in schools in the U.S. last year was 20 times more than those killed in Ethiopia. Abiy often likes to make Ethiopia’s fatality rate comparison with that of the U.S. during his public appearances.

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