Ethiopia: Rebellions Recede


January 20, 2010: A unit of 103 Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) guerrilla fighters surrendered to Ethiopian forces. The group also turned in what the government described as a large cache of weapons. A senior OLF commander was in charge of the group. It's difficult to verify such government claims. But, if true, this may prove to be a significant political victory for the government. The OLF is fighting for autonomy for the Oromo ethnic group (which is primarily in southern Ethiopia). The group may have surrendered because of an impending offensive against OLF bases by Kenyan military forces. Ethiopia and Kenya have been coordinating defense actions along their border and the Ethiopian government has been pressuring Kenya to attack the OLF and force its cadres back into Ethiopia.

January 19, 2010: It's been a long time coming. The Ethiopian government confirmed that the Ethiopian Tactical Helicopter Unit will deploy with the UNAMID peacekeeping mission in Darfur (Sudan) later this month. The unit's five tactical helicopters will arrive sometime in February.

January 10, 2010: The Eritrean government issued a statement that claimed it is “inherently” against all forms of terrorism.

The Oromo Liberation Front's (OLF) Oromo Liberation Army Eastern Command (OLA-EC) claimed it engaged an Ethiopian military unit in “Eastern Oromia” and wounded eight Ethiopian soldiers. There was no independent evidence provided for the claim.

January 4, 2010 The Eritrean government said that the rumors that a new deal is in the works to have an international agency demarcate the Ethiopia-Eritrea border is not accurate. Eritrea reiterated that Ethiopia illegally occupies Eritrean territory.

January 3, 2010: Two Eritrean rebel groups, the Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization RSADO) and the Eritrean Salvation Front (ESF) claimed credit for the January 1 attack on Eritrean forces. The rebels said their attacks struck two Eritrean military camps, located in Kokobay and Kermeti. The rebels claimed they killed 12 soldiers belonging to an intelligence unit located at Kermeti. They killed 13 Eritrean soldiers in the attack on Kokobay. The rebels made no mention of their own casualties. There was no independent evidence provided for the claim.

January 2, 2010: The Eritrean government warned that new UN sanctions could lead to more violence and war in the Horn of Africa.

January 1, 2010: Eritrea claimed that several Ethiopian soldiers launched an attack on Eritrean positions near Zalanbessa (disputed area on Ethiopia-Eritrea border). Ten Ethiopians were killed and two captured. Ethiopia called Eritrea's claim a complete falsehood. Ethiopia counter-claimed that Eritrean forces had fought a battle with Eritrean rebels. The alleged attack follows recent threats by the Democratic Movement for the Liberation of the Eritrean Kunama (DMLEK), an Eritrean rebel organization. DMLEK is one wing of the Eritrean Democratic Alliance which opposes the Eritrean government.

December 25, 2009: The government of Eritrea denied that it is arming or providing logistical support to Islamist militant organizations in Somalia. The denial follows a new round of economic and political sanctions imposed on Eritrea by the UN Security Council on December 23. The resolution is UNSCR 1907. Eritrea called the UN sanctions wrong and “shameful.” Eritrea accuses the UN of favoring Ethiopia in Eritrea's long-running conflict with its larger neighbor. The UN sanctions were imposed because of hard evidence that Eritrea is supplying both the al-Shaba and the Hizbul-Islam militias in Somalia.

December 22, 2009: A high-level court in Ethiopia sentenced five men to death for plotting to kill senior government officials. Another 33 people received life sentences. One of the men sentenced to death is opposition leader Melaku Tefera, whose supporters claim the charges are false and this is one more example of the government's “dictatorship.” Several of the convicted accused the government of torture during their imprisonment. Behind the trial lurks accusations by the opposition that the current government stole the 2005 national elections.


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