The Ethiopian government is due to meet with leadership of an exiled opposition party for further political talks, chief of staff of the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed confirmed on Tuesday.
According to Fitsum Arega, leadership of the Oromo Democratic Front (ODF) were due to arrive in the capital Addis Ababa today for talks which he said were “to promote sustainable peace consistent with the Ethiopian constitution.” He added that the government was encouraging other political entities to follow suit.
ODF on its delegation's return to #Ethiopia: “returning to our country and establishing itself among its constituents at home, and establishing a legal status in order to play its part in our country’s democratization has been and continues to be the ODF’s highest priority.” pic.twitter.com/ujiCCBgXmw— Mohammed Ademo (@OPride) May 22, 2018
ODF had confirmed in a May 13, 2018 statement that it had reached an agreement with the government after talks at an undisclosed location to return to the country to partake in the democratic process.
ODF said at the time that a team from its end had met a high-level delegation from government and that it was due to dispatch a delegation to Addis Ababa for further talks.
Media reports indicate that the delegation is led by its leader Lencho Leta. The Addis Standard portal said Leta is accompanied by his deputy Dima Negewo; Foreign relations head Hassen Hussein & PR head Lencho Bati.
The ODF was established in 2013 having broken away from the country’s oldest opposition political party, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) – the latter remains a banned group under the law.
The ruling EPRDF coalition in January 2018 announced that it was set to undertake political reforms which included opening up the democratic space and guaranteeing more political freedoms.
Subsequently, there was mass prisoner releases including of leading political opponents and detained journalists. But in mid-February, a state of emergency was imposed a day after then Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned.
PM Abiy was elected to lead the EPRDF and to take over from Desalegn. He was sworn into office on April 2 but has yet to comment publicly on the state of emergency.