Joint Press Release Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and Congress for Somali Cause (CSC)

An ONLF team led by the chairman Mr. Abdirahman Mahdi and the Congress for Somali Cause led by the Chairman Mr. Ahmed Mohammed Hassan (Baaji) met in Nairobi and discussed the current crisis in Ethiopia and the Somali State. The two delegates extensively deliberated on the dire situation that all peoples in Ethiopia are facing, in particular, the looming catastrophe the Somali people are facing regarding the unfolding famine in the Somali state and the narrowing of the political space in the Somali state, which so far has the most peaceful area in the Horn of Africa.

The Somali region is experiencing one of the worst droughts in decades that is killing livestock and creating a dire humanitarian crisis. Since May last year, much of the region has received less than 30 percent of normal rainfall, wiping out pastures and worsening food and water shortages. Indeed, drought is a slow onset, creeping natural hazard and there is often more time to plan and implement an appropriate response. Although drought is a natural phenomenon, it never causes famine, unless there are other factors, such bad (or lack of) governance, poor public policies, or misplaced priorities. Therefore, the current situation of the region, which leaves millions to deal with crippling famine, hunger, and malnutrition, proves the inability of the government to act responsibly, acknowledge the extent of the problem and invest in the right areas and programs. Although the drought has already caused significant loss of human lives (including children) and destroyed assets and livelihoods, the measures employed so far by the federal and local government are, not only ineffective to deliver lifesaving services but have exposed the carelessness and sloppiness of the state. Instead of drawing attention the sense of urgency needed in tackling the draught, the Ethiopian federal leaders minimize the critical situation and danger the Somali people are facing in regard to the draught when they visit the Somali state.

While, the parties are, therefore, sympathizing with the victims, who lost their loved ones and whose livelihoods have been destroyed, we are condemning the gross negligence and dismissal of the reality on the ground by the administration. The parties are urging the federal and regional governments to stop denying the facts, reverse course and act responsibly before many more lives have been lost.

With regard to the already floundering national dialogue, the fact that Amb Mohamud Dirir (the least credible Somali politician) is being selected by Addis Ababa to represent Somalis in the forums, without appropriately consulting key Somali stakeholders including the local representatives of the now divided Prosperity Party, which illustrates the depth and scale of political, economic and social marginalization that Somalis have been experiencing for decades. As we firmly believe that the same is true in all other regional states. Thus, such approach that the government has adopted, will render the spirit of the dialogue invalid and will never serve the interest of all peoples in Ethiopia.

We, therefore urge the government to appreciate the scale of the challenge that Ethiopia is facing and devise measures that can bring the communities, torn apart by devastating conflicts and distrust, together. More importantly, the government must realize, that without cessation of hostilities in all parts of Ethiopia, and exclusion of key stakeholders, there will be no mindful dialogue that can bring lasting peace to this part of the world.

The two parties condemn the recent illegal detention of political leaders and youth in the Somali state and the increasing narrowing of political space and denial of the basic democratic right of freedom of expression and right of assembly that the current Somali state government is implementing, which is in against the spirit of democratic change that was promised in 2018 after changing the previous regime.

Finally, the two parties agreed to continue cooperating on advocating for the democratic rights of the people and highlighting the effect of the impending famine in the Somali state.

Nairobi