On August 11th, the Oromo Liberation Army announced that it had allied itself with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) to fight against the Ethiopian central government.
“The only solution now is overthrowing this government militarily, speaking the language they want to be spoken to,” Oromo Liberation Army leader Kumsa Diriba, also known as Jaal Marroo, said.
He said the agreement, proposed by the Tigray forces, was reached weeks ago.
“We have agreed on a level of understanding to cooperate against the same enemy, especially in military cooperation,” he said. “It is under way.”
They share battlefield information and fight in parallel, he said, and while they are not fighting side by side, “there is a possibility it might happen.”
There are discussions to also form a political alliance.
Diriba said that other groups in Ethiopia are involved in similar discussions.
“There’s going to be a grand coalition against [Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s] regime.”
The alliance brings together the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which long dominated Ethiopia’s government but was sidelined when Abiy took office in 2018, and the OLA, which last year broke away from the opposition party Oromo Liberation Front and seeks self-determination for the Oromo people.
The OLA leader spoke a day after the prime minister called on all capable Ethiopians to join the military and stop the Tigray forces.
“Now is the right time for all capable Ethiopians who are of age to join the Defense Forces, Special Forces and militias and show your patriotism,” Abiy’s office said in a statement.
Tigray forces spokesman Getachew Reda has told the AP they are fighting to secure their long-blockaded region but if Abiy’s government topples, “that’s icing on the cake.”
— Office of the Prime Minister – Ethiopia (@PMEthiopia) August 10, 2021
The OLA leader acknowledged that agreeing to the TPLF’s proposal for an alliance took some thought.
“There were so many atrocities committed” against the Oromo people during the TPLF’s time in power, he said, and the problems it created have never been resolved.
But the OLA decided it was possible to work with the TPLF, he said, though some doubts remain.
“I hope the TPLF has learned a lesson,” he said.
“I don’t think the TPLF will commit the same mistakes unless they’re out of their mind.” If they do, there will be chaos in Ethiopia and it could collapse as a state, he said.
As a result, the OLA and TPLF found a common enemy in the face of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and are now marching on the capital to topple him, while he attempts to rally forces and civilians in a vicious civil war.
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