The Ethiopian Defense Force Day is celebrated on Thursday in Addis Ababa where there was an unprecedented military parade at the Meskel Square. It is also celebrated in different parts of Ethiopia.
The day used to be celebrated in February before Abiy Ahmed’s administration changed the date to October 26. The decision is, it is said, based on historical records. Ethiopia’s Defense Ministry was established for the first time on October 26, 1907.
In a Defense Day message Abram Belay, the Minister for Defense, called up Ethiopians to support the Defense Force which he described as the last stronghold of Ethiopia’s sovereignty – a force with a nation but no ethnicity.
In recent years, there has been extensive criticism towards the Ethiopian Defense Force that it is mired in the business of advancing Oromummaa ideology just like the Defense Force under the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) was serving the TPLF ethnic supremacy agenda rather than advancing Ethiopia’s cause.
The ongoing military operation in the Amhara region of Ethiopia, where the defense force is battling against Fano Forces who said that they are on a mission to reverse the existential threat of ethnic Amhara people, has caused dwindling support to the Defense Force. It is noticeable that people in the region are increasingly seeing the Defense Force as an “Abiy Ahmed and Oromummaa ” force. The atrocities committed in the region have strengthened the sentiment. Amhara is one of the regions in the country where the Defense Force used to garner solid support.
Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed denies that the Defense Force is serving a purpose other than one for which it was instituted. In a message during the Defense Force celebration, he said “The Defense Force does not have a goal that is short of Ethiopia. It is organized by Ethiopians. It is led by Ethiopians. It works for Ethiopia. “
Field Marshal Berhanu Jula, Chief of Staff of the Defense Force, blamed historical narratives as a cause of problems for the defense force. “Historical narratives written tilting to one side have been causing us controversy,” he said. His assertion resonates with a view of radical ethnic Nationalist forces like the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), whose military wing is linked to tens of thousands of massacres of ethnic Amhara in the Oromia region, propagated for years highlighting narratives of Ethiopian history as a history of “neftegna” and the works of “Debtera” (Clergy).
The Defense Chief added that the Defense Force is among the institutions impacted by what he called “partisan narratives,” according to a report by Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporate (EBC).
“We the leaders and members of the Defense Force promise to defend its honor and l pass the country we received from our patriotic fathers to the oncoming generation,” he added.
Major roads in the capital were closed for the event and police has announced that the event was celebrated “peacefully.”
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