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ONLF elects its longtime foreign secretary as new chairman

The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) has elected Abdirahman Mahdi as the organization’s chairperson following an election held in Goday town of Ethiopia’s Somali Regional State.

Mahadi has long been serving as ONLF foreign secretary has received 340 votes while his Challenger Ahmed Yasin got 247.

The elections come after ONLF announced that its incumbent chairperson, Admiral Mohamed Omar Osman will be retiring soon.

The ONLF was among two other groups that were removed by parliament from the list of banned movements – part of a reform driven by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has extended an olive branch to dissidents.

On August 12 last year, ONLF declared a unilateral ceasefire, and some of its members have returned to Ethiopia.

The group whose base was in Ethiopia’s neighbouring Eritrea for decades had staged a deadly attack against Ethiopian forces in the past; claiming its armed operations were meant to defend Somalis in Ethio-Somali region.

In 2007, Ethiopian forces waged a large-scale offensive against the group after they attacked a Chinese-run oil facility, killing 74 people.

China’s GCL-Poly Petroleum Investments has been developing two gas fields in the Ethio-Somali region since 2013.

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