Ethiopia “kidnaps” chief rebel negotiators in Kenya (ST)
An Ethiopian rebel group on Tuesday alleged that the Ethiopian intelligence services have abducted two senior rebel officials from the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) said in a statement on Tuesday that their chief negotiators, Sulub Abdi Ahmed and Ali Hussein (who is also known as Ali Dheere), were kidnapped late on Monday.
The two rebel leaders had been staying in Nairobi to attend a third-round peace talks with Ethiopian government as negotiators, according to the ONLF.
The allegations could not be verified independently and Ethiopian officials were not available for comment on Tuesday.
The separatist group said the actions of the Ethiopian government’s agents will have a huge affect on the ongoing Kenyan-mediated peace efforts to bring about a lasting solution to conflict in Ethiopia’s Ogaden Region.
“This heinous act constitutes a breach of confidence in dealing with Ethiopia and will gravely hamper any further talks with Ethiopia”, the ONLF said.
“This cowardly act, will further invigorate the quest of the Somalis in Ogaden for freedom”, the statement adds.
The group called up on the Kenyan government to urgently apply diplomatic pressure on Addis Ababa so that the abducted ONLF officials are swiftly freed.
“We call upon the Kenyan government, which took the responsibility to be a neutral venue, and as a facilitator to investigate fully this travesty and request the Ethiopian government to return the abductees”, the statement said.
Ethiopia launched military offences against the ONLF after the group took responsibility for an attack on a Chinese-run oil exploration field in April 2007 that killed 65 Ethiopians and nine Chinese workers.
The Ogaden rebel group has since been designated as a terrorist entity by Ethiopia, which is a key regional ally of the US in its so-called global “war on terror”.
Ogaden, which covers majority of Ethiopia’s eastern Somali Region has been a conflict zone between ONLF and government forces.
Ethiopia says the group has been defeated and it no longer is a threat in the region, which borders neighbouring Somalia where Ethiopian troops are fighting Al-Qaida allied Al-Shabaab.
Since Ethiopia staged offences in the Ogaden region, international rights groups have accused Addis Ababa’s Special forces of committing abuses in the region, with some right groups referring to the situation in Ogadan as the “Darfur of Ethiopia”.
Ethiopia has repeatedly dismissed the allegations.