The first round of talks between Ethiopia and the Ethiopian separatist rebel group ONLF commenced on Sunday in the Kenya capital Nairobi.
Present at the talks included controversial Ethiopian Political advisor to IGAD General Gabre, Abdi Omar Iley Ethiopia`s Somali regional President and Abdirahman Madey ONLF´s foreign representative.
Kenyan officials are facilitating the talks and was represented by Senator Yusuf Hajji, Ambassador Mohamed Affey and MP Yusuf Hassan.
Senator Yusuf hajji chaired the Nairobi talks.
“The talks which I have coordinated for the last six years have reached a crucial stage” Kenya`s Garissa County Governor Ali Bunow Korane said.
“We are committed to regional peace and we intend to find a lasting peace between the Ethiopian government and the Ogadenia National Liberation Front” Korane said.
The negotiations come 6 months after Somali government handed over ONLF leader Abdikarin Sheikh Muse to Ethiopian authorities.
A 2015 agreement between Somalia and Ethiopia designates both Alshabaab and ONLF as terrorist groups.
The presence of Gen.Gabre in the talks is attracting mixed reactions
“This guy killed and displaced thousands of Somali civilians during his tenure as supreme commander of the Ethiopian military forces in Somalia, and involved in various financial scandals, which including blackmailing the former Somali presidents, prime ministers and various Somali businessmen.
He can’t be a negotiator! Period” Hussein Mowlid a Kenyan journalist commented on his Facebook account.
Gen Gabre led the 2007-2008 Ethiopian invasion into Somalia and his troops are alleged to have used heavy weaponry on civilian areas killing hundreds.
ONLF was established in 1984 to fight for the right to self determination for the more than 7 million ethnic Somalis in the Somali region of Ethiopia.
Since 1994 it has claimed several attacks targeting Ethiopian forces in the region and todays meet in Nairobi is the latest attempt to end the rebellion.