Dawud Ibsa Ayana, the previously exiled chairman of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), is scheduled to return to Ethiopia on Saturday, September 15, amid ongoing street clashes in Addis Ababa. Various groups of youths, including OLF supporters, protested in Addis Ababa on Wednesday, September 12, and Thursday, September 13, leading to violent confrontations and dispersals by security forces. The areas near Bole and Meskel Square roads are expected to be the focal points of any possible upcoming rallies. Continued demonstrations and violence between OLF supporters, their opponents, and security forces are possible over the weekend. An increased security presence and transportation disruptions, including road blocks, are likely.
The OLF have fought an insurgency against the Ethiopian government since the 1970s, seeking self-determination for the Oromo ethnic group. The organization, and its chairman Dawud, were declared terrorists and banned until July 2018, when the OLF declared a unilateral ceasefire and parliament rescinded its designation of the OLF as a terrorist organization. This easing of tensions comes as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali enacts a series of reforms to loosen restrictions against long-time political opposition groups.
Individuals in Addis Ababa are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all protests and large public gatherings as a precaution, anticipate an increased security presence and traffic disruptions, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.
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