Ethiopia Declares Tigray, Oromia Groups Terrorist Organizations

Ethiopian lawmakers declared two political groups as terrorist organizations, as the government moves to quell instability in the run-up to elections next month.

The House of Peoples’ Representatives backed a government proposal to outlaw the Oromo Liberation Army and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front in a vote Thursday in the capital, Addis Ababa.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office at the weekend accused the OLA of carrying out a series of recent attacks against civilians that left many people dead and displaced and put society “in constant anticipation of danger and fear.” Federal troops have been battling supporters of the dissident TPLF in the northern Tigray region since November.

The OLA, an separatist group that broke away from the Oromo Liberation Front last year, vowed to step up attacks on Addis Ababa.

“The OLA will engage in total war to remove this illegitimate clique from power and to finally enforce the constitutionally enshrined right to self-determination for the Oromo people and other oppressed nations of Ethiopia,” OLA spokesman Odaa Tarbill said in an emailed statement on Thursday.

Billene Seyoum, a spokeswoman for Abiy, said she wouldn’t comment about a statement from an entity deemed a terrorist organization by the parliament.

The OLA, also known as OLF Shane, has been fighting government forces in western Oromia’s restive Wollega area for months. Thursday’s statement was the first all out declaration of war aimed at officials residing in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia is scheduled to hold elections on June 5.

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