Addis prepares elaborate welcome ceremony for ex-separatists from Eritrea

Members of the Ogaden National Liberation Front, who fought the Ethiopian Army in a separatist war in the desert. Photo : NYT/Courtenay Morris

Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia (ADV) – The home-coming from Eritrea of the entire leadership of the Ogaden National Liberation Front, ONLF, a former rebel group in eastern Ethiopia, continues to be the talk of the country this weekend.

Official sources peg the number of the returnees as several dozens while unofficial sources say thousands of the ONLP former fighters and higher civilian hierarchy have reunited with their families in several parts of Ethiopia on Saturday.

ONLF is one of former anti-government groups that created their military command bases in Eritrea after they were branded as terrorist movements by the former Ethiopian governments.

The return was triggered by a motion that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed tabled in parliament earlier this year to remove the Oromo Liberation Front, Ginbot 7 and ONLF from the terror list on condition that they ceased hostilities and agree to reach a political settlement of the crisis

Their conflict with the former Ethiopian governments stemmed from decades of a secessionist war with Ethiopia.

The ONLF delegation was received by Ethiopia’s Finance Minister Ahmed Shide and the president of the Somali Regional State, Mustafa Omer at the Bole International Airport on Saturday.

Federal government representatives are billed to hold a meeting with the returnees and will be followed by an elaborate official welcoming ceremony in the capital, Addis Ababa soon.

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