ION | October 29, 2015
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn went discreetly to Sitti Province in the Somali National Regional State (SNRS) on 14 October to reassure the local authorities that he would maintain Liyu Police in place. In September the PM had wanted to have this force dissolved (ION 1412), but he was finally swayed by the arguments of SNRS President Abdi Mahamud Omar aka Abdi Ilay. The latter has continually tried to persuade Addis Ababa of the importance of this police not only to fight the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) but also Al-Shabab. Hailemariam Desalegn consequently heaped praise on the Liyu Police, which is under the command of an Abdi Ilay loyalist, General Abdirahman Abdillahi Burale aka Abdirahman Labagole. Meanwhile, over 1,000 new recruits are currently undergoing training to join the force.
This turnaround comes days before the date for the signature of the peace agreement in Oslo on 24 October between the historical leader of the ONLF, Mohammad Omar Osman, and Dawud Ibsa, leader of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF, armed opposition) to create a regional opposition coalition, Peoples Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (PAFD). This five-sided coalition wants to question the ethnic federalism that is the very pillar of the unity of the Ethiopian regime. In maintaining the Liyu Police, the central government will fight against this coalition and demonstrate its control over a region they are trying to develop. General Abraham Woldemariam Genezebu, head ofEastern Defence Command, is keen to create a new school. The prime minister also promised to speed up the work on modernising the road linking Harar and Dire Dawa in Addis Ababa and to develop the Gode Sugar Factory and also the Hamaro hydro-electric dam.