Thousands of supporters of the exiled Oromo Group gathered in Addis Ababa to welcome back the leaders of the banned Oromo Liberation Front who had been living in exile. Jubilant crowds celebrated in the Meskel Square of the capital as Dawud Ibsa returned from exile. Similar events were also held in other parts of Ethiopia.
Dawud Ibsa stated, “We are happy to be here after 26 years of struggle from outside of Ethiopia. We will be a part of the peaceful struggle. We have been struggling to bring the changes that we are seeing now in Ethiopia. We are now seeing positive signs that include the respect for the rule of law. That’s why we came here”.
Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed, ever since he has assumed office has brought in a number of reforms and also ensured the release of prisoned dissidents, lifted ban on many websites and also took steps to liberalise the economy.
OLF was established in 1973, to stand up for the rights of Oromo people to national self-determination. Oromo comprise the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia. It was in 1992, after the Group had shared differences with the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the group started launching armed attacks. It was later declared as a terrorist outfit and banned by the government. The government began its crackdown on the Oromos, which deepened the crisis even further. Long struggle of anti-government spilled over to the Amhara region and ultimately to resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.