ESAT News (July 23, 2018) In a stunning departure from the norm, the new chief of staff told military officers that the army must remain neutral regardless of discords and differences among political parties.
General Saere Mekonnen said that the army must only be loyal to the constitution and the constitutional order. “The status quo that made the army partisan to political parties must be eliminated,” he said. The general made the remark during a three-day training for military officers.
He noted that the army can only discharge its duties if it is politically neutral. “Otherwise we cannot build a professional army,” he told the officers.
He particularly emphasized the perils of ethnic division, which he referred to as destructive. “If we are involved in ethnicity, we cannot build a democratic society.”
The army chief also underlined that the defense force cannot be a defender of the constitution as long as it’s not free from ethnic bias. “We will foster animosity and conflict among our people We need to be cohesive as a team.”
He also pointed out that the rank-and-file member of the army is diverse and unified even if it has some effect on the upper echelon. “Ethnicity, a potent force for destruction, must be discarded as it is obstacle and an obstacle to building a modern army.