Ethiopia Aims to Build ‘Centralized Army’, Disbanding Regional Special Forces

A member of a military marching band attends a ceremony to remember those soldiers who died on the first day of the Tigray conflict, outside the city administration office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022. InternationalIndiaAfricaManaging EditorThe announcement, however, follows reports of skirmishes between the federal and Amhara regional forces hours before, when Amhara Special Forces refused to hand over their weapons as part of the integration process.The Ethiopian government said on Thursday that it plans to incorporate all regional special forces into either the national army or the federal or regional police.According to the statement, the reorganization of the special forces is part of the reform that the government has started on the security structure. Moreover, since the military is considered to be “the last shield of the country to protect the sovereignty,” strengthening the army in all fields has been a key part of the government’s main agenda.”The government has set a direction to build one strong and centralized army … it has started practical steps that will allow special forces of every region to be integrated into different security structures,” the statement said.The members of the special forces can join the defense army and the police force in the states according to their choice, and they will work to rehabilitate the former militia fighters if they want to return to normal life or civilian life.

The Ethiopian government specifically pointed out that the process of reorganizing special forces is not disarmament but reorganization, adding that the regional special forces soldiers should not accept distorted information nor get confused.

Ethiopia is divided into ten regions, each of which has some degree of autonomy, from having its own regional army to having the freedom to speak its own language.Further in the statement, the goverment acknowledged there were problems in Amhara but it attributed them to a misinterpretation of the policy and to fringe elements within the regional force. According to the statement, the complete disarmament of the peace agreement with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front is being carried out in the presence of international observers.

The federal military is being deployed to ensure peace and security in all regions, the authorities stated.

As fighting broke out in northern Tigray in 2020, Amhara military groups helped Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s federal troops against insurgents. Thursday’s statement acknowledged that the special forces have been of great benefit to the “survival of the country” and stressed that they will be reorganized according to the various options.


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