Ethiopia opposition parties call for dialogue to end Tigray conflict

Tigray conflict

A member of the Afar Special Forces stands in front of a destroyed house in the outskirts of Bisober village in Tigray Region. Two Ethiopian opposition political parties have called for a comprehensive national dialogue to resolve the Tigray crisis.

Photo credit: Duardo Soteras | AFP

As conflict in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region spills to neighbouring Amhara and Afar regions, two opposition political parties have called for a comprehensive national dialogue to resolve the crisis.

The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and Hibir Ethiopia Democratic Party have issued statements calling for an inclusive political dialogue to end conflicts in Ethiopia.

ONLF made the calls after the party’s executive committee held a two-day extraordinary session in Addis Ababa from August 4-6, 2021.

At the same time, ONLF is also calling for a roadmap to finding a lasting solution to all other inter-ethnic conflicts across the country.

Last month, Afar regional militias crossed borders to Ethiopia’s Somali region and carried out an attack against Somali communities residing near the common border, leading to days of clashes that claimed the lives of about 300 people. Most of those who died were ethnic Somalis.

Unending civil wars

While noting that the political culture of Ethiopia whereby differences are resolved through bloody violence, which leads to unending civil wars, ONLF expressed its concerns over the worsening conflict situation in the Horn of Africa nation.

ONLF, which was formerly designated as a terror entity, called upon all parties to the conflict in northern Ethiopia to immediately stop hostilities and to unconditionally embrace mediation efforts.

The party appealed to the international community to mediate between the warring parties in a genuinely neutral and impartial manner that would lead to cessation of hostilities and establishment of peace.

It further called for "an inclusive comprehensive dialogue attended by all nations and other stakeholders in order to resolve the perpetual conflicts that kept Ethiopia frozen in a culture of conflict and hegemonic rule".

Earlier, Hibir Ethiopia Democratic Party had also issued a statement calling on warring parties to engage in talks in order to rescue the nation from falling apart.

Stop disintegration

“Coming to the negotiation table does not mean losing, rather winning, hence it is part of the process to save the country from disintegration.

“It is unlikely that the military option will bring a peaceful solution to the complicated Ethiopian conflict" the party said.

The two Ethiopian opposition parties echoed similar calls which had been made by the US government and most recently by Samantha Power, the USAid head who paid a visit to Ethiopia last Wednesday.

Ms Power said there is no military option to the conflict in Tigray and called on all parties to the conflict to immediately stop fighting and begin dialogue.

When she met with Ethiopia's Minister for Peace Muferihat Kemal and Health minister Liya Tadesse, she told the Ethiopian officials that it was time for the government to consider peace options to end the ongoing nine-month bloody conflict.

"There is no military solution to an internal conflict," Power said.

"All parties should end hostilities and agree to an immediate ceasefire, and begin talks about reconciliation and troop and militia withdrawal from neighbouring regions," she added.