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Ethiopia, Ogaden rebels peace talks stall

By ARGAW ASHINE |

The second round of Kenya-brokered peace talks between the Ethiopian government and the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) has collapsed, the rebel group said Wednesday.

According to the ONLF, the negotiations scheduled for October 15-17 in Nairobi had not made any progress after Ethiopian officials demanded the “recognition of the Ethiopian current constitution” as a precondition for the talks to proceed.

During the first preparatory round of talks the two sides had agreed not to have any preconditions in follow up talks.

On Wednesday the rebel group declined to recognise the current Ethiopian constitution as part of the negotiations. However ONLF said it was willing to return to the negotiation table if the Ethiopian government dropped its preconditions.

ONLF, an armed rebel group established in 1984, has been seeking independence from Ethiopia.

The ONLF delegation was led by Mr Abdirahman Mahdi, its Foreign Bureau Secretary, while the Ethiopians were led by Defence minister Seraj Fegesa.

Kenya’s Defence minister Mohamed Yusuf Haji was the chief mediator on behalf of his government.

Ethiopian officials were yet to respond to requests for comment on the stalemate.

The collapse of the negotiations has a direct impact on the peace effort in southern Somalia where Kenya hopes to establish a semi-autonomous Jubaland administration in its own security interest.

Kismayu is home to Ogaden clan members who are found on both sides of the common border between Ethiopia and Somalia.

Ethiopia has been unhappy about the creation of a Jubaland administration for its own security reasons. According to Addis Ababa the formation of a Jubaland administration would give ONLF rebels a base from which to launch attacks against the Ethiopian administration.

Source: African Review

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