Ethiopian rebel group from region where Renaissance dam is located ends arms struggle, returns home
June 8, 2013 (ADDIS ABABA) – A rebel group from Ethiopia’s Benishangul Gumuz region, where Ethiopia is building a major dam on the Blue Nile has laid down its arms, the Ethiopian government said on Saturday.
Buses carrying hundreds of members of the Benishangul People’s Liberation Movement (BPLM) arrived at Benishangul Gumuz region where they were warmly welcomed by thousands of people.
BPLM and the Ethiopian government reached a peace agreement last year after rounds of negotiations that took over two years.
The deal was possible after the group agreed to fully accepted and abide by the constitution of the country and end its 17 years of armed struggle.
Members of the rebel group will not be prosecuted. They will also receive support from the government which will enable them to actively take part in the developmental activities of the region.
Following the peace pact, the Ethiopian government has released detained members of the BPLM.
One of the group’s leaders, Husien Ahmed, told Sudan Tribune that his group decided to lay down arms because making peace was the right and best option.
“We sign peace deal because we believed it was right time for reconciliation with the government and the people of Ethiopia.”
Ahmed called on other rebel groups to end their rebellion and engage in peace processes in order to reach national reconciliation.
The rebel leader admitted that his group has been receiving financial and military support from neighboring Eritrea, with which Ethiopia has had tense relations since a 1998-2000 border war that has killed an estimated 70,000 people.
The Ethiopian government has called on the group to fully implement the agreement and distance itself from internal and external anti-peace elements.
This is second time for the group to sign peace pact with government.
In 2005 the group sealed peace deal however it broke the deal a year later and resumed its armed struggle.
It was said that the peace agreement will enhance security in the region and would encourage other rebel groups to similarly join the peace process.
The BPLM has been operating in Eritrea and in Sudan.
According to the agreement, the group’s right to operate in Ethiopia’s legal system will be respected.
The Ethiopian government has been encouraging rebel groups to come for the negotiating table.
Since 2010 a faction of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and United Western Somali Liberation Front have signed peace pact with government.