Defense Chief of Staff said he does not believe that special fores in region are armed with heavy weaponry but sees no constitutional basis for the force.
August 12, 2020
Ethiopian Defense Chief of Staff, General Adam Mohammed, had on Tuesday an interview with state media, Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC).
Divisive propaganda, as he called it, on the Defense Force, special forces of the regions, and internal and regional affairs were among issues he raised during the interview.
“There have been attempts to divide the defense force, especially the leadership, along ethnic, religious or regional lines. However, the army has been accomplishing its mission in unity under a single leadership,” The Defense chief told EBC.
It is implied in the interview that the attempt to divide the army has backers from outside forces but the misnomer is spread on social media through the agency of internal forces.
In what seems to be an attempt to emphasize the importance of national consensus and unity, he said that internal disorder and chaos could bring about vulnerability in the region where several countries have already established a military base. “Internal cohesion is a prerequisite for the task to defend Ethiopia’s national interest,” seems to be his key message.
The Defense Force had been deployed to different regions on several occasions for law enforcement missions due to ethnic-based violence. During the massacre in July 2020 in the Oromo region of Ethiopia, the region’s special force failed to protect non-Oromos. It was after the Defense Force was deployed that the massacre was stopped.
On Regional Special Forces
Noting the fact that special forces in regional states (states are instituted based on ethnicity) have been growing, in terms of numbers, in the past two years, the Defense Chief said that he does not believe that they are armed with heavy weaponry. His remark is, clearly, a response to the criticism that ethnic-based special forces are armed with heavy weapons.
In the past two weeks, media outlets in Tigray regional state have been showing videos of the region’s special forces making military parades, with individual and group weaponry, in the streets of Mekelle and other towns in the region.
Oromo, Amhara, Tigray, and Somali are among regions with hundreds of thousands of special forces. Politicians and activists had been expressing concern about the size of special forces in the ethnic-based regions in view of polarized ethnic-based politics.
Social Media conversation among Ethiopians seems to suggest that there is an interest in the replacement of regional special forces with Federal police.
General Mohammed Adem remarked during the interview with EBC that the regional special forces do not have a constitutional basis.
There were reports recently that the decision-making body in the Federal government is considering limiting the type of weapons to be used by the special forces.
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