Muferiat Kamil tend to see regional special forces are unconstitutional in nature. Extensive discussion among political leaders is important for the sake of a united Ethiopia, as she sees it.
December 7, 2020
Regional Special Forces have been operational in Ethiopia’s ethnic-based regions for over a decade now. And the Federal government now seems to be concerned about it.
According to a report by the Ethiopian Reporter on Sunday, the Minister for Peace — Muferiat Kamil — has expressed a view that a broad and extensive discussion among political leaders, at different levels of government, is necessary.
“Extensive work and discussion are ahead of us for we have clarity that we have to stand as a country,” she is cited as saying.
The minister was explicit that the special forces contravene the constitution.
Regional states have the entitlement to organize their police force but the forces are not supposed to have what she called a “Defense Force character.”
She was referring to the kind of training and weapons that these police forces need to have as specified in the constitution.
The regional police forces are allowed to have regular police training and weaponry essential to enforce the law at the local level but not special training and group weapons that are presumed to be relevant to the Ethiopian Defense Force. However, almost all regions have special forces.
From the reports published by The Ethiopian Reporter, Muferiat seems to think that the issue of special forces has become political and political leaders at different levels need to think about it.
Special Forces was first established in the Somali region of Ethiopia in 2007 with the aim to control the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) insurgency in the region.
It is also in the Somali region of Ethiopia that the special forces attempted to challenge the Ethiopian Defense Force. Months after Abiy Ahmed became prime minister in 2018, the then Somali region president and ally of TPLF Abdi Illey — now in prison — mobilized his special forces with an alleged move to secede the region from the rest of Ethiopia. In the ensuing days, there was a clash between the Ethiopian Defense Force and the Somali region special forces in several parts of the region including in Jijiga. The result was that the special forces were vanquished in a matter of a day or two.
What the Ethiopian government defense forces call a law enforcement campaign in the Tigray region of Ethiopia has essentially similar character. Tigray regional state under the leadership of TPLF — a party that dominated Ethiopian politics for nearly three decades until it was ousted in April 2018 — has organized 250,000 special forces and militia.
The upshot was that TPLF defied the Federal government on a number of the occasion the latest of which was in August 2020 when the regional government organized its election against the decision of the Ethiopian Peoples House of Representative and The House of Federations. Worse, the huge special forces of the region attacked the military bases of the northern command of the Ethiopian Defense Forces with the aim to take over power forcefully.
The Ethiopian government had to launch a “law enforcement campaign” and the region’s special force was defeated after three weeks of war although reports of pockets of resistance which the Ethiopian government dismisses as untrue.
While the Minister for Peace position on special forces is something that many Ethiopians seem to support, there are critical voices who assert that it is meaningless without changing the ethnic-based form of the federal government structure which has reduced millions of Ethiopians to a second class citizen — not to mention that it led to prevalent ethnic-based violence and attacks.
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