Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said his government is open to talks with the rebel Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), but he doubts the group’s cohesion.The PM made the statement earlier this week during a 90 minutes long discussion with Ethiopian academics that was broadcast on state media outlets.
The discussion was held under the banner “academics for national prosperity” with hundreds of academics drawn from across Ethiopia.
“Those who asked for the peace in the north to be repeated in the west don’t think there is a closed door for Shene (the name given to the OLA rebels by the Ethiopian government),” Abiy said.
“Aba-Gedas (ethnic Oromo traditional elders) and local elders have tried, but the option for peace is still open. We’re ready to be at peace with anybody, but killing farmers isn’t right and the wrong is being committed primarily for the people you are claiming to fight for,” the PM further said.
The PM claimed the OLA doesn’t have central command and leadership and as such cast doubts on any successful negotiations with the rebels.
“Which Shene is it? The Ambo Shene, the Dembi-Dolo Shene, the Guji Shene? Abiy told the academics.
Veering to other topics, the PM also claimed that his government doesn’t kill people, an apparent allusion to allegations of gross human rights abuses against his administration.
He also claimed the number of people killed in schools in the U.S. last year was 20 times more than those killed in Ethiopia.
Abiy often likes to make comparisons between Ethiopia’s fatality rate and that of the U.S.