Excerpts from two Wikileaks files, one from the US embassy in Asmara and the other from Addis Ababa contain some insightful information about what recently evolved into the latest faction, the Oromo Democratic Front (ODF). It shades light on who finances the project and also reveals a prior existence of a well established direct channel of communication between the leadership of ODF and TPLF. In Meles’ own word “ All Lencho had to do was contact him — and “he knows how to do that.” It appears that the only difference between then and now is that the then mediating elders have now evolved into negotiating leaders. Of course Meles is dead, yet the continuation of this project indicates that those channels are still open. But its not clear whether the rival TPLF factions and leaders competing to takeover have the incentive and political clout to continue this game.
Moreover, although they can cover the overhead cost, its doubtful that countries like Germany, Netherlands and Norway have sufficient leverage, economic or political, against the regime to ensure enforcement of any agreement. In fact, these countries are known for abandoning initiatives or taking sides with the winner if and when the belligerents resort to flexing their muscle. One best example is their role in persuading the Tamil Tigers to enter into negotiation with the Sri Lankan government in 2002 , only to turn blind eye or even provide tacit support to the regime when it began the scorch earth offensive in 2006. The negotiation and ceasefire deceived the Tigers’ to lower their guard, exposing the once highly secretive command structures, leading to decimation of one of the best organized and efficient insurgency in the world. Hence, instead of ushering peace and freedom, the ‘negotiation’ resulted in complete reversal of the Tamil people’s struggle after 25 years of momentous march towards liberty.
( Filed by Vicky Huddleston, Chargé d’Affaires, US Embassy Addis Ababa)
January 11, 2006
Meles lamented that he thought he had struck a deal with OLF leader Lencho in Bonnin which the OLF would respect the constitution, give up violence and become a peaceful political competitor of the EPRDF. However, when violence erupted and the EPRDF looked weak, the OLF had gone back on the agreement and called for insurrection. Nevertheless, differences between the government and OLF were not irreconcilable. Meles confirmed that he remained open to renewing the discussion. All Lencho had to do was contact him — and “he knows how to do that.“
November 5, 2008
Respected Oromo exile Lencho Leta, along with Dima Nego and other elders, was scheduled to travel to Addis in October for talks with Ethiopian officials. The initiative of Oslo-based Lencho Leta is reportedly supported by the Netherlands, Norway, and Germany. Daawud claimed the postponed talks were not reconciliation negotiations approved by the OLF, but were merely to be discussions about establishing “cglgural institctcons.” The OLF’s political director is Lencho Leta’s brother.