Somalia lifts terrorist tag on Ethiopian ONLF movement

Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble

Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble when he chaired a Cabinet meeting on January 23, 2022. The meeting resolved to removed a terrorist tag on Ethiopia’s Ogaden National Liberation Front.

Photo credit: Courtesy

The Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) on Sunday announced it no longer categorises an Ethiopian freedom movement as a terrorist organisation, rescinding a decision made more than four years ago.

Mogadishu now says Ethiopia’s Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), labelled as a terrorist group since 2017, is no longer seen as such, in a move likely to improve ties between Ethiopia’s Somali region and Somalia.

The cabinet meeting which was chaired by Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble in Mogadishu said the decision was effective immediately, cancelling the tag first issued on September 6, 2017 by the then cabinet.

“Such recognition of ONLF as a terrorist entity is hereby abolished, considering the earlier decision as illegal,” the government stated, referring to the council of ministers hitherto chaired by former prime minister Hassan Ali Khaire.

Sunday’s FGS’s resolution stated that the extradition of Abdikarim Sheikh Muse alias Qalbidhagah, a senior ONLF official who was handed over to the Ethiopian authorities on August 28, 2017, was a breach of the terms of Somalia’s provisional constitution, especially its fourth article and the provisions of the Somalia penal code.

No extradition treaty

The cabinet reiterated that Somalia has no extradition treaty with Ethiopia, rendering the extradition of Muse to Ethiopia an illegitimate act, according to the council of ministers’ resolution on Sunday.

“Therefore, the federal government of Somalia fully apologises to Abdikarim Sheikh Muse alias Qalbidhagah for the wrong action against him,” the cabinet stated.

Moreover, the council of ministers indicated that the ONLF was not a universally recognised terrorist organisation, except by the previous Ethiopian government.

The current Ethiopian government led by Abiy Ahmed has reconciled differences with the ONLF and the organisation now operates in Ethiopia legally, especially in the Somali region of Ethiopia.

Reports from Kenya in August 2021 indicated that PM Roble met with Muse in Nairobi during an official visit, promising him that his government will resolve anomalies concerning him.

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