The opposition must address the armed forces

September 1st, 2006 Print Print Email Email

By Seifu Tsegaye Demmissie. | August 31, 2006

We are getting news about desertions and dissent in the armed forces as a result of the political crises that has gripped the country.This development is inevitable given the fact that the army has been used by the brute regime to crush and quell a peaceful opposition that was just voicing its basic rights. The purpose of having and maintaining an army is to defend the country against any foreign force that can encroach upon or violate its territorial sovereignty.

However, the dictator Meles has made the army his instrument of suppression and killings, trying to make the defence establishment an accomplice in his crimes against the country. This has tarnished the image of the army among a considerable portion of the civilian population.

The army`s role has been transformed into that of defending Meles`s power and the armed forces have been drawn into the political stand off between the tyrant and the public seeking to create a democratic and free country. I think this situation has precipitated the crises we hear about in the army and vigilance on the part of the opposition in order. The looming danger associated with the trouble in the army can have far reaching consequences. In line with the tribal political economy of the regime, the army is also known to be organized along ethnic lines for the sake of easy manipulation by the regime and to be used as a tool of repression and state terrorism. Ethiopians have had to endure a lot of suffering and many may not be sympathetic to the army that is in the service of tyranny. Apathy or indifference is not the right course in the face of the looming danger.

There are many who believe that the US (CIA) had a hand in incapacitating, dissolving or disbanding the previous Ethiopian armed forces to pave the way for the smooth take over by its long groomed candidates, the EPLF/TPLF. I still recall the feeling of witnessing an army retreating in disarray and contemplating the security risks it poses to the public and the country. In my opinion, the dissolution an army that had a national feeling, was one of the factors that gave Meles a free and unbridled ride.

The army can not remain immune to the political crises in spite of the efforts of the regime to insulate and isolate it from the forces of democracy and freedom. The periodic desertions and news about dissent in the army are ominous signs of the impending disorder and disarray and no sane person wishes this scenario in the volatile horn of Africa. The combined pressures from the deep political crises and the possibility of the despotic Meles initiating a diversionary conflict, can result in disarray in the army.

So far I have not heard or read any united opposition appeal to or call on the army to rise in unison and revolt against the oppressive anti-Ethiopia regime that may use it as cannon fodder in any conflict intended to serve foreign interests. The opposition has a historical responsibility to call on the army to remain as a coherent and intact force and not to submit to the evil wishes of Meles Zenawi and his foreign sponsors. The army has the duty to join democratic forces and defend the rights of Ethiopians who sustain it. In doing so it can avert the looming danger hovering over its very existence (internal disarray) resulting from tyranny and will be a force for the people and the country. It is incumbent upon the opposition to mobilize the army as part of the struggle against tyranny and oppression in Ethiopia. The men in uniform should be aware of their responsiblity and play an active role safeguarding our liberties and rights.

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