General Abraha Wolde, the commander of the Ethiopian army’s Southern Division based in Harar, who singlehandedly rules the Ogaden with iron-fist, has lately been busy organizing a conference in Jigjiga. This conference, which comes in the wake of the recently failed peace talks between the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and the Ethiopian regime held in Kenya, is the Ethiopian government’s response to the ONLF position regarding the illegitimacy of the Ethiopian constitution as a pre-condition for the peace talks.

But before we analyze the Jigjiga conference it is important to mention that General Abraha Wolde was part of the second Ethiopian delegation at the talks and is the man responsible for the failure of the peace talks as he personally benefits the ongoing war in Ogaden. This TPLF army general, whose hands are soaked with innocent Ogaden civilian blood, runs the Ogaden as his personal ranch.  He has extensive business interests whose labyrinths cannot easily be pin-pointed, most of them managed through a shadowy network of companies run by his cousin, one named Shiferow and other relatives. This criminal pair – Wolde and Shiferow – have total monopoly on all import and export businesses in Ogaden, deciding what comes into the region and what goes out of it as well as the market value of goods. Aside from their monopoly of import-export businesses they also receive the biggest chunk of the Somali Regional State’s tenders.

Over the years Gen. Wolde and his associates established a parasitic relationship with regional puppets, chief among them the current ‘president’ of the Somali Region, Abdi Mohamud Omar (Abdi Iley) and a host of others. Together this cartel–which comprises the army, security personnel, local puppets, and their business syndicates– have made life unbearable for the citizens of Ogaden.  It is in that context that this criminal cartel saw any chance of peaceful solution to the conflict as a mortal threat to their survival. After succeeding to derail the talks, they’re now out trying to sell their agenda and shift the blame to ONLF.

The ONLF knew from the outset that this criminal group was not sincere about finding a just and peaceful solution to the conflict through negotiated settlement but did not want to be seen as the side obstructing the process.

Time and again this carnivorous cartel that operates in Ogaden milked the central government in Addis Ababa in a series of plans designed to militarily crush the ONLF inside Ogaden and disorient and win-over the movement’s supporters in the Diaspora through propaganda and enticements. But when these plans failed to deliver the anticipated results, and instead produced the opposite, some sane voices inside the regime begun to challenge the status qou and agitate for a solution through negotiated settlement.  General Wolde and his gang hit back, taking advantage of the vacuum created by the death of dictator Meles Zenawi and the new leadership’s apparent shakiness and vulnerabilities.

The conference General Wolde and his gang convened in Jigjiga is an attempt to accord an air of legitimacy to their arguments for scuttling the talks and hit back at the ONLF.

This group might have gained the upper-hand in muscling the Addis Ababa regime and foreclosing any attempt to end the conflict in Ogaden peacefully through negotiated settlement, but the people of Ogaden are too familiar with their gimmicks in the form of conferences aimed to artificially create legitimacy for their unpopular decisions.

Our sources inside the conference hall have intimated to us the following points about meeting:

1)      Abdi Iley’s opening speech in the conference sounded like a valedictory talk. It seemed as if he was on his way out and asking the people to pardon him when leaves his post.

2)      To put the blame for the crimes committed by the Ethiopian army and the Liyuu Police militias in Ogaden on the ONLF.

3)      To  accuse the ONLF for failure of the peace talks.

4)      To convince the participants to endorse the Ethiopian government’s decision not to continue the talks unless ONLF accepts the Ethiopian constitution.


















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