Saturday, September 26, 2020

Ethiopian Defense Force Chief Berhanu Jula Vows Military Action Against Any Entity Trying to Impose Will by Force

Deputy Defense Force Chief remark came as authorities in Tigray region vow to defy Ethiopia’s Federal government power after September 30

Deputy Chief of Staff Berhanu Jula (Photo : ENA-resized)


September 25, 2020

As authorities in the Tigray region of Ethiopia announced that the mandate of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government comes to an end on September 30, the deputy chief of staff of the Ethiopian Defense Force Berhanu Jula warns that the defense force will take action against any entity trying to impose its will by force.

He said so during an interview with state media, Ethiopian News Agency (ENA), on Thursday.

“We will be compelled to take action against any entity that is seeking to impose its will in a way that violates the constitution,” said the Deputy Chief of Staff and Head of operation affairs General Berhanu. He said that those who say that there is no government after September 30 should be careful not to violate the constitution. The defense force will stand in the guard of the constitution, he said.

It is unclear if the interview was conducted within the context of developments in the Tigray region of Ethiopia where a regional government under the leadership of Debretsion Gebremichael was established on Thursday following an election in the region which the House of Federation rejected as illegal. TPLF leaders running the region are also in a collision course with the Federal government as they are rejecting the decision of the parliament this week to hold the six general elections across the country including the Tigray region during this Ethiopian year. If the Tigray regional state is not letting that happen in the region, the Federal government is likely to act.  General Berhanu Jula’s interview lacked specificity in that regard.

General Berhanu also remarked on the issue of banknote changes, he confirmed that the Defense Force is engaged in enforcing the law to facilitate the exchange of old banknotes with new ones. The reason why the defense force had to be involved in law enforcement as it relates to the banknote changes is unclear. Last week, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said that the Defense force will confiscate illegal cash (cash in the amount of 1.5 million Ethiopian birr is considered as illegal according to recent regulation by the Ethiopian government), and use it to strengthen the Defense Force as an institution. PM Abiy’s speech drew criticism at the time.

General Berhanu Jula elaborated on the issue during the interview with Ethiopian News Agency. “Illegally circulating money will be seized and spent on reinforcing the security structure,” he said. He was critical of those whom he said are tarnishing the image of the defense force, but he did not name names.

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