Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ethiopian gov’t signs peace accord with Benishangul’s rebel group | News

The Ethiopian government on Wednesday signed a peace agreement with Benishangul People’s Liberation Movement (BPLM) aimed at ending the latter’s armed struggle for independence.
In January 2005, the BPLM signed a peace agreement for the first time with the Ethiopian government. However, a year later the agreement was broken and armed conflict was resumed.

According to John Young, a political analyst, much of the infrastructure of Benishangul, including schools and clinics, had been destroyed by the armed group based in Sudan which is believed to be BPLM.

For about 17 years, BPLM was involved in “anti-development” and “anti-peace” activities hand-in-hand with other armed groups across the Ethio-Sudanese border, Abebe Worku, public relation officer at Ministry of Federal Affairs (MoFdA) told The Reporter.

“For about two years, the Ethiopian government has been dealing with BPLM to nullity their activities,” Abebe said.

Last Wednesday, after a long debate, the peace agreement was signed at Ghion Hotel between Jafar Mustafa, deputy chairperson of BPLM and Shiferaw Teklemariam, Minister of Federal Affairs representing the Ethiopian government.

According to analysts present at the signing ceremony, the peace agreement will enable the facilitation of the construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam and will avert threats from the armed group.

Recently the Ethiopian government and the United Western Somali Liberation Front signed a peace accord after various rounds of peace talks. However, observers say that the intention was to safeguard the security of the Oil region of Ogaden from the ONLF-Ogaden National Liberation Front, another armed group which was labeled as a terrorist group by the parliament.

BPLM, which is a Muslim organization and an advocate of self-determination, was formed in the early 1990s with its base in Sudan and Eritrea.

According to Young, the government of Sudan had resumed its support for the movement of the armed group, though there is no evidence for this contention.

In particular, the Sudan government had developed relations with the group since it is ideologically close to the Khartoum regime, Young added.
Moreover, the BPLM drew support from various tribes including Gumuz, Koma, Maa, but, above all, from the entirely Muslim Berti or Funj tribe. 

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