Former ONLF rebel leaders meet Ethiopian PM for talks

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has held talks with representatives of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) group in Addis Ababa, weeks after hundreds of the group’s fighters relocated from neighbouring Eritrea.

The ONLF is a former rebel group fighting in eastern Ethiopia and was once branded a terrorist entity by Addis Ababa.

Even though ONLF and the office of the premier have yet to confirm the meeting, VOA journalist Maruf who extensively covers the Horn of Africa said the meeting took place in the capital Addis Ababa.

In December and January, the group’s fighters returned to the country from their base in Eritrea and were received by senior Ethiopian government officials.

Eritrea harboured the ONLF during decades of a standoff sparked by a border dispute that had since been resolved.

It is the first meeting between the two parties since ONLF fighters and leaders returned to the country from their base in Eritrea.

For decades, the ONLF had been fighting for independence for the Somali-speaking Ethiopian region.

But it disarmed its fighters this month and agreed to reintegrate its members into Ethiopia’s security forces and civil service. This came after Prime Minister Ahmed introduced political reforms that called upon rebels and Ethiopians in exile to return home.