Ethiopia Government in Talks With Rebels, Spokesman Says
Principles to end the 28-year conflict in the Ogaden area of Ethiopia’s Somali regional state were agreed during initial talks on Sept. 6 and Sept. 7 in Nairobi, the rebel group said in an e-mailed statement today.
The Ogaden National Liberation Front has fought a low-level insurgency in the area with natural gas reserves of 4 trillion cubic feet since 1984, seeking greater autonomy. In April 2007, the group attacked a site operated by China ’s Zhongyuan Petroleum Exploration Bureau, killing nine Chinese workers and 65 Ethiopians.
An unspecified date has been agreed for more talks facilitated by the Kenyan government and attended by Ethiopia’s Minister of Defence Siraj Fergasa and ONLF Foreign Secretary Abdirahman Mahdi, the rebel group said.
The talks occurred after armed insurgents indicated they wanted to take the “peaceful avenue,” Bereket said. “It’s in this spirit that talks have started,” he said.
The government signed a peace deal with a faction of the group in October 2010, since when it has denied occasional claims of successful attacks on security forces by rebels.
An e-mail and phone calls to U.S. and U.K. numbers for Mahdi were not immediately answered.
( Also the ONLF confirmed this on its website as follows)
Peace talks between Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and the Ethiopian Government Held in Kenya
ONLF Press Release
September 8, 2012
Delegates from the Ogaden National Liberation Front and the Ethiopian government held talks in Nairobi, Kenya on the September 6th and 7th 2012, facilitated by a Kenyan team designated by the President of Kenya, HE Mwai Kibaki. Mr Abdirahman Mahdi, the Foreign Secretary of the Ogaden National Liberation Front, led the ONLF delegation from the Somalis in Ogaden. The Ethiopian delegation was led By the Defence Minister of Ethiopia HE Siraj Fegessa. HE Mohamed Yusuf Haji, the Minister of State and Ag Minister for Provincial Administration and Internal Security of Kenya led the facilitation team.
After exchanging opening statements presented by the head of the delegations, the two sides agreed on the modalities of the negotiation process, the general principles that would be the basis of resolving the conflict and the initial agenda, with the facilitation of the Kenyan team.
The general principles agreed upon that would be the basis for resolving the conflict is:
1 Formal negotiations between the Ethiopian government and Ogaden National Liberation Front shall be held to resolve the conflict;
2 The common goal of the afore mentioned negotiations shall be the attainment of a just and lasting peace;
3 Such negotiations shall be comprehensive and address the substantive issues that are the root causes of the conflict;
4 The holding of negotiations must be in accordance with mutually acceptable principles and no preconditions shall be made to negate the inherent character and purpose of the peace negotiations.
5 The substantive agenda of the peace negotiations shall include issues that will facilitate the implementation of any peace agreement;
6 Both parties shall agree to specific measures of goodwill and confidence building in order to create a favourable climate for the negotiations.
Finally, the parties agreed on the date of the next meeting to be held in Kenya.
Issued by the : Ogaden National Liberation Front