Ethiopia says Ogaden rebellion on last legs

April 8, 2009


ADDIS ABABA (AFP) – A rebellion by ethnic Somali’s in Ethiopia’s southeastern Ogaden region has been significantly weakened, the government claimed Tuesday, ruling out any negotiations.

Communication Minister Bereket Simon said Addis Ababa’s military riposte and a dual approach of undermining the Ogaden National Liberation Front by boosting development initiatives and offering a rival political platform were paying off.

“Now that the development is on its way, the ONLF has lost too much ground. It is now in a state of crisis and very weak, very divided with many splinter groups,” he told a press conference.

“The situation in Ogaden now is improving by the day. That is the government assessment: that the ONLF will find itself in a difficult position,” Bereket said.

He said the rebels, whom Ethiopia alleges are supported by arch-foe Eritrea, were also buckling under the pressure of the military offensive launched in the aftermath of a deadly attack against a Chinese-run oil venture in the Ogaden.

“The last two years’ experience demonstrates that the ONLF has not been successful in military operations. On the contrary, the counter-insurgency operations by the government have been effective,” Bereket said.

Bereket added that the government had no intention to negotiating with the rebels, who have been fighting since 1984 and claim their oil-rich territory is systematically marginalised by the Christian-dominated regime.

“We have given them a chance to come to the round table and they have refused so far and preferred the military option. So now the government is not in a position to invite them to the round table,” he said.

“Whenever there is a possibility to get ONLF fighters, we’ll get them, as we have done with success in the past.”

Released Chinese who were kidnapped following the massacre of 74 people including 9 Chinese  by ONLF in April 2007