For the past seven years, Conciliation Resources has been supporting a peace process in the Somali Regional State of Ethiopia. The Ogaden National Liberation Front had been waging an armed insurgency against the Government of Ethiopia in the region since 1994. It’s a conflict that threatened the stability, security and development prospects of Ethiopia, but is often overlooked – both regionally and internationally.
This month marks the first anniversary of the signing of an historic peace deal between the two parties, ending over 20 years of armed conflict and paving the way for the ONLF to transition from an armed group to a political party. The deal was a culmination of six years of negotiations between the two sides, but the appointment of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali proved to be a pivotal moment in the progress of the peace process.
Just three months after coming to power, the new Prime Minister announced that the ONLF, along with other armed groups in the country, would be removed from the Government’s list of terrorist organisations. This paved the way for the ONLF to engage in legitimate political activities inside the country, and allowed the groups exiled leaders to return to their homeland. His bold political, economic and social reforms, including the release of thousands of political prisoners, addressed some of the substantive agenda issues in the peace talks.
Prime Minister Abiy’s decisive changes for the better, and his willingness to meaningfully engage with armed groups, make him a worthy winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. But we’re pleased to see that the prize also recognises those determined, creative and passionate individuals, who together are working for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia, and who we’ve had the pleasure to work with over the past seven years.
A peace process does not end with the signing of a peace agreement, and there is still much to be done to address the damage caused by years of conflict. We hope that this prestigious prize spurs on Prime Minister Abiy and all others in continuing their important work to sustain a peaceful transition, and build a better future for the diverse peoples of Ethiopia.