Ethiopian Defence Force is inquired by the Parliamentary Committee on how it views challenges that regional governments (formed on the basis of ethnic identity) are having their own special forces
Foreign Relation and Peace Affairs Standing Committee in the Ethiopian parliament on Sunday asked for an explanation from the Ministry of Defense regarding how the latter is planning to go about reversing security threats citizens are facing in different parts of the country.
It was asked when the Defense Force provided performance evaluation over the past nine months. Dr. Ambraham Belay and some other senior officers from the Defense Force appeared before the committee.
The Standing committee particularly asked whether the Defence Ministry is working on plans to deal with issues that are posing existential and security threats among the people, and how it is planning to reverse prevalent violence in the country.
Furthermore, the committee demanded an explanation of plans to disarm those who are “armed illegally” and also if there are any plans in place to support the families of fallen soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice during what the Ethiopian government called “law enforcement operation.”
The committee also asked for remarks from the Defence Ministry about regional special forces (regional special forces are exclusively ethnic-based as the regions are instituted on the basis of ethnicity). Regions have hundreds of thousands of special forces.
Former Defense Chief of Staff, now Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Turkey, General Adem Mohamed, once remarked about the issue but topic of the conversation was rather about the types of fire arms that should be allowed to ethnic based special forces rather than the desirability of very existence of it.
The answer from Abraham Belay, the Defence Minister, was rather too general. State Media, EBC, cited him as saying the Defence Ministry had seven main goals that it set out at the beginning of this Ethiopian budget year.
Among them are, as highlighted by Dr. Abraham, defending the constitution, defending Ethiopia from internal and external enemies, strengthening the military capability of the country, and ensuring institutional change and development.
Many Ethiopian activists and politicians express their views on different platforms in the cyberworld that one of the major problems Ethiopia is facing emanates from the very constitution that the Defence Force is vowing to defend. There had been calls for constitutional reform in a way to pave the way for an end to ethnic based-attacks and ethnic radicalism.
The notion of “citizenship” has been trivialised by radicalised ethnic nationalism and ethnic-based regionalism, and administrative and political structures that support it. Practically, citizens are relegated to second-class status and there are no strong opposition parties working to defend and advocate for the rights of citizens. Ethnic-based regions have huge ethnic-based special forces, and the Federal government failed to stop that.
On the other hand, ethnic nationalism has structural and political support and many of the opposition parties in the country are based on ethnicity.
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