Two major opposition parties in Ethiopia have announced a merger as the country heads into elections slated for the year 2020. The move comes weeks after state-run FBC reported of talks to that effect.
The Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) and Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), said they had “reached an agreement to work together to represent Oromia and the Oromo people’s interest.”
Local media portals report that the announcement comes days before the arrival of OLF leader Dawud Ibsa his team. They are expected to return from their base in Eritrea, where they recently agreed a peace deal with the federal and Oromia regional government.
OLF until recently was considered a terrorist organization by the government. OFC on the other hand remained a political group in the country during the height of Oromo protests that rocked the country partly contributing to change in leadership of government earlier this year.
Two of its leaders – Dr. Merera Gudina and Bekele Gerba – became the face of the political struggle as they faced multiple criminal charges and spent long periods in detention. The state has since dropped the cases against them.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has stressed on occasions that the ruling EPRDF coalition was committed to ensuring the Ethiopia goes through free and fair elections in 2020.
Activists and political watchers have increasingly called for Addis Ababa to begin work on reforming the electoral system and the wider political playing field to guarantee a credible process.
A top activist in the Oromo struggle, Jawar Mohammed, in an interview with the Addis Standard news portal stressed the importance of political mergers in order to give the ruling party in the Oromia region a good challenge at the polls.