Emerging Threats and Implications for Promised Peace, Stability and Development:
Somali Regional State in Ethiopia or the Ogaden region has already faced with increased poverty and mistrust between the administration in power and the competing political parties in the state. Intercommunal clashes are imminent anytime, especially in the Jarar and Qorahay zones.
Lately, the administration started closing the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF’s) office in many places, detained ONLF officials and intimidated many other supporters, a tactic known by all previous regimes in Ethiopia.
When the security officers guarding the ONLF chair was taken out last night by the administration and death threats were directed to many other leaders of ONLF who were campaigning for the ill-fated but the only hope of the coming election, there is growing tension in the ONLF leaders regarding their own safety which is contrary to the signed agreement between Federal Ethiopian government and ONLF.
Current treatment of the citizens of the Somali state and the incitement of ONLF by the regional administration is reinforcing the already eroded public confidence and demand for the Federal government to intervene and keep its promises. Despite ONLF struggle to talk to the regional state actors, the formation of committees to resolve the issues of misunderstanding, the rejection of any kind of talk by the regional administration has led to the political impasse that birthed hopelessness in the public at large and among the ONLF cadre, which may create an unexpected instability which the ruling party wants before the coming election.
The Somali people in the Ogaden/Somali State are despondent of fighting for more than a hundred years and they need the stability that leads to a free and fair election which in turn brings development. In the meantime, ONLF’s fight is about seeking the “right to decide the future of Somalis in the Ogaden. ONLF cannot decide what the Somali people want. What ONLF is saying is that let Somalis be given their right to decide. Free choice is not secession; free choice could mean choosing the right to live together in peace and dignity. This is in line with the definition of the United Nations instruments which is a basic right of contemporary international law which has been given prominence in the United Nation’s Charter, by decisions of the International Court of Justice, by subsequent multilateral agreements exhibiting customary expectations, and by numerous resolutions by the General Assembly as well as the mediation agreement Ethiopia and ONLF signed in Asmara in 2018. Therefore, ONLF is hundred per cent ready to participate the coming election in a peaceful manner, but the regional administration is creating unnecessary tension and agitation and that is what the Somalis living in the Somali state is warning.
The regional state admin should stop the provocation of the fight which is likely to escalate the relationship between ONLF and the Administration and the clan motivated violence between and among the Somali communities in the region. These are the typical tactic of the past regimes.
The federal government and world benevolent community should listen to the local community and intervene in the situation before things fall apart.
Mahamud Ugas, PhD