Field Marshal Berhanu Jula spoke on the issue of, among other things, Unity in the army. It is something that should be emphasized further
The Ethiopian Defense Force has undergone noticeable reform measures after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office following the resignation of former prime minister Hailemariam Desalgne.
One of the major changes, as has been pointed out by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and key Military Commanders including Field Marshal Berhanu Jula, is that principle that the army is loyal to Ethiopia, not to the government or to the ideology of the government. Part of the rhetoric with the change in principle is that idea that during the 27 years of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) rule, the army was trained to be a protector of revolutionary democracy, not Ethiopia. Abiy Ahmed himself is on record on that point.
One of the political aspects of the revolutionary democracy principle is the emphasis on the ethnic politics.
It is indisputable that ethnic politics has made Ethiopia vulnerable to external and internal security problems. Eritrean President Isaias Afeworki highlighted, in an interview with Eritrean state broadcaster some time last week, the danger that ethnic politics constitutes in terms of bringing about external vulnerabilities too. He was clearly making a reference to Ethiopia too.
Latest Ethiopian Defence Chief of Staff, Field Marshal Berhanu Jula, interview with Ethiopian state media was released on Wednesday. Among other things, he remarked how the support of Ethiopians was important in the army and how the army is united. As a point of emphasis to the latter, he further said that the Ethiopian army’s identity is Ethiopian and does not have any ethnic identity.
However, if the support base and the government is divided along ethnic lines which inevitably complicates governance, politics and security situations in the country, it is the army that will be faced with the task of dealing with it. The first thing Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed told his ministers when he met with them after winning his first election in 2021 is to stop seeing themselves as representatives of their ethnic identity. That is indicative of the magnitude of the problem.
It is for that reason that the army needs to work further on the idea of creating a truly Ethiopian army and also influence politics, in good measure and constructively ( this is in no way encouragement for political interference or any other form of anit-government action) to end institutionalised ethnic politics in Ethiopia. Ultimately, it will ease the task of defending Ethiopia.
Video : embedded from EBC Youtube channel
Cover photo : screenshot from the video
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