The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) wishes to inform the International community that the upcoming so-called elections in Ethiopia will not be free, fair or unfettered. The Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) led Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Front (EPRDF) regime will declare a landslide victory in all areas and continue its policy of repression throughout Ethiopia and war crimes in Ogaden primarily because the regime is convinced there will not be consequences.
The Ethiopian regime continues to bet on the fact that it's security cooperation with donor nations will give it a pass to operate with impunity, particularly in the Ogaden. It also feels that the particular humanitarian Aid it is dependent on will be politically problematic to cut.
As such, the regime believes that it is in a position to continue its current policies effectively eliminating all forms of dissent and attempts to create democratic space in Ethiopia because of its unique position Vis-a-Vis the security interests of key democratic donors and their lack of leverage on this regime given that humanitarian and development aid has been effectively off the table as a leverage tool.
This strategy on the part of the regime also includes partnerships with relatively wealthy undemocratic nations in order to make up for any shortfalls in critical development assistance. Such partnerships
comfort the regime in that they know forthcoming assistance will not be used as a leverage tool to bring about respect for human rights, freedom of the press and freedom of association. The TPLF led regime
has made clear It will continue to utilize international security relationships to get a free pass on its actions while systematically and deliberately expanding its relations with undemocratic donors it
knows will not hold them to account for their gross violations for human rights.
This fine line that this regime is walking is designed to maintain the status quo in the short to medium term with any changes in leadership on the part of the regime being only cosmetic in nature. However,
walking this fine line is simply not sustainable in the long run.
As opposition groups see democratic space narrowing and their leaders being either killed or arrested, they will choose to defend themselves in the long run as the people of Ogaden have. They will come to realize that the only true leverage is what they are prepared to do themselves. What we see in Ethiopia today is a clear path towards the predicament of the people of Ogaden for all peoples repressed by this regime. There are clear parallels to be made.
The Ogaden has never had a free press, freedom of association existed only for a brief time after the fall of the previous Marxist regime, political leaders have always been either killed or arrested, even the
concept of an independent judiciary does not exist. Ogaden today is effectively a large military garrison. This is what the future holds for the peoples of Ethiopia as well if they do not remove this regime
from power. Through its actions, this regime has shown that it can not be reformed by the ballot box because it does not believe in the ballot box or even it's own Constitution.
The international community must recognize that the current political dispensation in Ethiopia and the strategy of this regime to render itself immune to foreign pressures for reform is a recipe for long term disaster which will eventually harm the interests of the International community in general and the Geo-strategic interests of key democratic donor nations in particular.
Dealing with such an eventuality tomorrow will prove to be more costly and less effective then recognizing and addressing the challenges associated with the repressive policies of this regime today.
The Ogaden National Liberation Front stands prepared to partner with the international community in not only finding a just, comprehensive and lasting solution to the Ogaden conflict but also in working with other non State actors in the region to avert what is sure to be a recipe with alarming regional ramifications in the future should Ethiopia be allowed to continue down this path.
It is only through engaging non State actors in a substantive manner that the international community can realize a more peaceful and democratic Horn of Africa. Non State actors have significant influence over facts on the ground in the region in general and Ethiopia in particular. As such, with the outcome of this so-called election all but certain, given the current environment of fear, what remains is the people who understand that democracy is not a staged event but rather a dynamic and real process. A process this regime has rejected through its actions repeatedly.
Ogaden National Liberation Front (O.N.L.F)