By Addis Getachew and Seleshi Tessema
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
Five high-ranking members of an exiled Ethiopian opposition party -- the Oromo Democratic Front (ODF) -- arrived in capital Addis Ababa early Wednesday morning for a second-round of talks with the government.
The dissidents lived abroad for about 25 years after their erstwhile party was outlawed as a terrorist organization.
The popular political figures are now back with a new political party, the ODF, which held its first-round talks with the government in April in the U.S.
The move came after Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (Phd) took the oath of office on April 2 at which he promised national healing.
The five-member team includes Lencho Leta and Dima Negewo, ODF chairman and deputy chairman respectively -- two hugely famous names in Ethiopia’s political landscape -- as well as Hassan Hussein, foreign relations head, Lencho Bati, head of organizational affairs and Beyan Asoba, the spokesperson.
Ahmed’s coming to power signaled a diffusing of tensions across the country after more than two years of political turmoil after young people in Oromia and Amhara regional states demanded greater political representation and economic justice.
In an earlier statement, ODF said it was “…encouraged by the government’s recent positive steps towards reforms”.
The ODF was established in 2013 after it broke away from the OLF, an outlawed organization that allegedly took up arms against Ethiopia from neighboring Eritrea.
A local media quoted Lencho Leta as saying upon arrival that the recent political atmosphere in the country was encouraging for a peaceful political struggle.
Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Meles Alem told Anadolu Agency the opposition figures will hold discussions with Ethiopian officials.
“This is part of the government efforts to expand the political space in the country,” he said.