By David H. Shinn
Oromo and Somalis have long been politically marginalized and both have legitimate grievances. In the early years after the EPRDF took power, the OLF and ONLF participated in the new government only to become disenchanted after a brief period. The EPRDF has on occasion tried to negotiate its differences with both groups, so far without success. To the extent that the OLF and ONLF insist on achieving independent states, the EPRDF will resist.
An independent Oromia would effectively divide Ethiopia into disconnected parts and end the country as it is known today. It is important, however, to continue discussions with both the Oromo and Somalis, recognizing that both groups of people have legitimate grievances even if they do not bring a unified position to the table.
External players, including the United States, should do more to encourage these discussions and help identify a time and place where the talks can take place.
Read Amb. Shinn’s remarks in PDF : Ethiopias Rebel Groups
*David H. Shinn is a former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia (1996-99)