ONLF fighters return to Ethiopia after peace agreement
JIGJIGA, Ethiopia - Hundreds of armed fighters belonging to the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) returned to Ethiopia on Wednesday after the rebel group reached a historic peace deal, Garowe Online reports.
An Ethiopian Airlines plane carrying ONLF combatants landed at an airstrip in Jigjiga city, the capital of the Somali regional state, where thousands of cheering residents lined for the welcome of the turning fighters.
The ONLF militiamen have returned to Ethiopia from their bases in neighboring Eritrea. The two sides inked the agreement in Asmara last month as part of efforts by PM Abiy Ahmed to end the war with opposition groups.
The agreement allowed the ONLF leadership to undertake a peaceful political struggle in Ethiopia and be part of the ongoing transformation spearheaded by the reformist Prime minister.
The move came after Ethiopian government removed three rebel groups, including ONLF from its list of “terrorist” organizations last July, the latest sign of PM Abiy Ahmed charting a new course for one of Africa’s most tightly controlled states.
The ONLF is a separatist rebel group fought decades for self-determination for Somalis in Ethiopia. The group demands the autonomy of this region and has claimed several attacks since 1994 aimed at Ethiopian forces in the area.