Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) commander Abdikarim Muse Qalbi Dhagah has been freed by the Ethiopian government on Thursday.
Voice of America journalist Harun Maruf said traditional leaders confirmed that Abdikarim Muse was released on Thursday morning at 8am local time.
BREAKING: ONL commander Abdikarim Muse Qalbi Dhagah (2nd left) celebrates his freedom in Addis Ababa today with elders including Fawzi Mohamed Ali (right). pic.twitter.com/AxQGOltwQQ— Harun Maruf (@HarunMaruf) 28 juin 2018
Abdikarim Muse’s arrest and subsequent repatriation from Somalia to Ethiopia in August last year sparked an international outcry as it was feared the government would torture and humiliate him, having described ONLF as a terrorist organization and by extension, its members as terrorists.
ONLF describes itself as “a national liberation organisation that struggles for the rights of the Somali people in Ogaden and has no involvement whatsoever in Somalia’s multifaceted conflict at all.”
Reformist Abiy calls out to ‘opponents’
Ethiopia’s new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, who has championed political and economic reforms since taking office in April, has called on all previously banned political movements to give up rebellion and engage with the current government peacefully.
In a recent speech to legislators, Abiy said the country can only benefit from peace but not war, and called on Patriotic Ginbot 7 (PG7), the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) to give up arms.
PG7 has since heeded the call and announced its intentions to return to Ethiopia and pursue a peaceful struggle.
The Ogaden region a disputed territory between both countries was the subject of a war in February 1977. Ex-Cuban president Fidel Castro okayed the deployment of 1000s of soldiers under the leadership of one General Arnaldo Ochoa to help Ethiopia in a war.
The troops went to support the regime under Mengistu Haile Mariam to annex the Ogaden region. Somalia at the time, albeit allies of Ethioipia believed they were winning the war but forcefully surrendered the Ogaden plateau to the 17,000 Cuban soldiers.
The government of Ethiopia announced that extraction of oil would take off this week in the Ogaden region.