Addis Abeba — The House of People's Representatives (HoPR) yesterday approved the bill presented by the council of ministers to designate Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) and "Shene" as terrorist organizations. The bill was abstained by "one vote" approved by "majority vote" at the HoPR's 13th regular session, the Parliament said.
The resolution sparked controversy as to exactly who the term 'Shene' was referring to amid growing calls for national dialogue.
Speaking to local media, the Attorney General Gedion Timotios (PhD) said "The group commonly known as Shene is the group who calls itself Oromo Liberation Army (OLA). It operates in west Oromia and other parts of the country planting attacks claiming the lives of civilians," he said, adding "We have no reason to acknowledge the name this group gave itself."
"This group is not legally registered and certified like the TPLF. We chose the name Shene off of the name it is commonly known with, which is OLF/ Shene." Gedion cited article 23 of the proclamation that stipulates that the proclamation will be applicable to the group that is referred to by the aforementioned term explaining "it should be clear that using different names will not absolve the group that is being referred to." He also emphasized that the group is not to be confused with Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) which is a registered party acknowledged by the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia.
The OLA on its part accused the ruling party of using the term 'Shene' as a justification to kill, imprison, and torture the Oromo people with impunity. In a statement released a day before the HoPR's decision, the OLA went as far as calling the decision by the Council of Ministers 'a declaration of war on the Oromo people'. The OLA recalled its recent statement where it called for an 'immediate and unconditional' cessation of hostilities and expressed disappointment "Despite the OLA's good intentions, it is now clear that the illegitimate Ethiopian government has stubbornly chosen the path of war and destruction to achieve its sole objective of remaining in power at any cost." The statement also recalled the recent attack on the residence of OLF's chairman Dawud Ibsaa and said "Abiy Ahmed has made it more than clear that he only believes in rule by the barrel of the gun."
In a strongly worded statement, the OLA went to express regret over what it called "missed golden opprtunity." "We truly regret the missed golden opportunity to peacefully resolve the ongoing catastrophic conflicts and mitigate the suffering of our people," the group said, adding "We have extended the olive branch in good faith countless times only to be rebuffed and have our good faith exploited."
The OLA reiterated that it was forced to engage in armed struggle. "We have been forced to take this path by the actions of successive Ethiopian regimes" the statement read, and it went on to inform the international community and the Ethiopian masses that it is ready to take all measures permitted within the confines of the Geneva Conventions to save its people from what it called 'an illegitimate oligarchs'. The OLA vowed to "engage in total war" to ensure the right to self-determination for the Oromo people and other oppressed nations of Ethiopia. "While the path may be difficult, there is no doubt that victory and freedom are in sight."
The statement concluded by saying, "The Prosperity Party will be held solely responsible for all damage and pain that will result from the continuation of armed conflict in Oromia and Ethiopia."AS