Ethiopia (ONLF/ONLA and OLF/OLA)


Conflict Summary

Ethiopia has been subject to guerrilla operations since 1976, when the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) challenged the central administration ostensibly on behalf of the majority Oromo ethnic group. Various other secessionist and ethnic factions have subsequently raised arms against the government, for example the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and its armed wing the Ogaden National Liberation Army (ONLA), at times resorting to urban terror bombing. Following the resolution of the Ethiopia–Eritrea war in 2000, the government stepped up its efforts to eliminate the rebels. However, after disputed elections in 2005, rebel activity and military operations to curtail it have increased. Peace talks between ONLF and the Ethiopian government stalled in October 2012. Restrictions on media mean that events in Ogaden and Oromia are difficult to follow, however human-rights organisations regularly accuse Ethiopia and its armed forces of grave human-rights violations in the two regions. In November 2015 tensions reached a critical point as protests broke out in Ginchi, a small town in the Oromia region 80 kilometres southwest of Addis Ababa. The unrest was followed by a government crackdown on opposition groups and protestors. In 2016, two additional outbreaks of nationwide protests led the government to declare a six-month state of emergency in October. While there have been no reported large-scale protests since, the state of emergency has been widely criticised by human-rights groups and foreign governments due to the arbitrary detention of individuals and groups suspected of supporting the opposition. An estimated 20,000 people have been detained without charge, and over 600 people have been killed since the original outbreak of protests in November 2015. Despite easing some restrictions in December 2016, the government announced a four-month extension to the state of emergency in March 2017.