Ethiopia, FNL dissident calls for ceasefire in Ogaden conflict


Blinken has been one of the most powerful fighters in Hailemariam Desalegn’s military

The leader of Ethiopia’s FNL rebel group is calling on the country’s new prime minister to bring the long-running conflict in the restive Ogaden region to an end.

Martin Orombi is seeking the more flexible policies of Abiy Ahmed who took office in April and is expanding economic and social programmes to unify a nation divided by ethnic cleavages, and to overcome the political crisis, which was the main factor in the ousting of Hailemariam Desalegn.

“Abiy Ahmed’s numerous promises made at the moment are already laying the basis for a clash,” Orombi said in an interview in The Gambia. “He promised to fight corruption, better the country and remove age-old grievances that make people unhappy with the current leaders. But he did not speak about the most effective way to confront the conflict in the Ogaden. He knew that all his commitments would fall on deaf ears. If he had not been a conflict-avoidant person who does not strike in haste or with great force, perhaps his consolidation efforts would have reached a more fundamental and efficient end. But it didn’t.”

Orombi has been one of the most powerful fighters in Hailemariam Desalegn’s military.

In 2016, a military camp used by the FNL was overrun by government forces, killing dozens of fighters. But the group’s main reserve for fighters has been in the outside of the Ogaden region. That will make it tougher for Orombi to agree to a ceasefire or peace deal.

Observers believe there is reason to be worried about greater conflict.

“The re-establishment of the Ogaden National Liberation Front is a threat to national unity,” says Haji Hassan, a militia leader and the head of a local group called Anadolu’s Freedom. He adds: “Hailemariam’s difficult death leaves the prime minister with the responsibility of establishing a government that protects the people and promotes the economic interests of the country.

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