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News: Defense Minister says lower level admins’ failure to secure peace forcing army deployment for ‘small tasks’; army facing ‘massive defamation campaign’ by ‘extremist forces’

Dr. Abraham and members of the army providing the first quarter report of the Ministry to members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Relations and Peace Affairs of the House of People’s Representatives (HoPR). Photo: HoPR

Addis Abeba – Defense Minister Dr. Abraham Belay told lawmakers that the failure by lower level administrative units including zones, Woreda and Kebel administrations to secure peace properly is leading to the deployment of the federal army “in every neighborhood and Kebele for small tasks.”

Dr. Abraham said this to members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Relations and Peace Affairs of the House of People’s Representatives (HoPR) during a meeting to review the first quarter report of the Ministry of National Defense for the current fiscal year.

although “the army is paying a great sacrifice for the respect of the country’s sovereignty…a massive defamation campaign was launched against [it] by extremist forces”

Dr. Abreham

The Minister explained that the mission of the National Defense Force as an institution was aimed at protecting “the borders and sovereignty of the country,” and that “the security problems in every neighborhood should be resolved by the leadership at every level.”

Additionally, the minister complained that that although “the army is paying a great sacrifice for the respect of the country’s sovereignty…a massive defamation campaign was launched against [it] by extremist forces,” according to HoPR. He warned that anyone insulting and defaming the country’s army should be held accountable.

Dr. Dima Negeo, Chair of the Standing Committee, on his part cautioned that the country’s political leadership should solve the political problems in order for the national defense forces to not get “busy with petty problems.”

Dr. Dima further said that the leadership of the army “should understand that it is the last fortress of the country’s sovereignty and act accordingly. The army should rather continue to strengthen its loyalty to the country’s constitution by fulfilling its national mission and that the Ministry of National Defense should work with focus to realize this mission.

Ethiopia’s “role and history in peacekeeping missions must be strengthened” and that the ministry of defense should “work to ensure transparency” in the recruitment process and deployment of army members, Dr Negeo emphasized.

Asked to explain the current security situation in the Amhara and Oromia regions, where the army is engaged in multiple militarized conflicts with members of Fano militia and Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), the Minister told the Standing Committee that “the security problem in the two regions has made a great progress and efforts are being made to ensure lasting peace.”

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Although, second round peace talk between the federal government and OLA is currently underway in in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, government owned and affiliated media outlets have reported militarized conflicts involving the army and OLA over the weekend both in western and southern Oromia region, the stronghold of the later.

Similarly, despite repeated claims by the army and regional officials of “relative peace” in the restive Amhara region which is besieged by conflict for over five months now, reports show the continued presence of intensive militarized engagement between government forces and the Fano militia in various parts of the region, some of which involved the use of drones and resulted in civilians causalities.

On Monday this week, Lt. Gen. Berhanu Bekele, Federal Army’s North West Command Chief and Chairman of Amhara regional State Command Post, cautioned regional and zonal officials of the region that they “should determinedly work with security forces” to bring the “relative peace” achieved in the region “to an irreversible level.” AS

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