The Fate of Regional Special Forces

Bringing regional Special Forces under federal government comand would allow local conflicts and crimes to become national

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Arts TV televised a debate pertaining to the fate of Regional Special Forces Yesterday. The debaters were Solomon W/ Gebriel, a human rights expert and Belayhun Arega from general attorney office where Solomon W/ Gebriel argued that regional Special Forces should to continue to exist and operate under regional administrations comand, while Belayhun Arega debated that the Special Forces should be restructured to come under federal government supervision.

Solomon afraid that bringing regional Special Forces under federal government would allow local conflicts and crimes to become national; however, if its structure continues under respective regional administrations, local crimes and conflicts would not get the chance to become national, and enable to contain them locally. As we have witnessed the conflict with the forces of Ogaden national liberation front, also known as locally ‘OBNEG’, in Somali region, where the region’s special force successfully contained it locally, which the federal police failed to do so prior to the formation and deployment of the special force.

However, Belayhun’s insistence emanated that the regional Special Forces are merely standing for their respective regions and nationals and are not treating all Ethiopians equally. In fact, “we have been witnessing that they have been favoring those who speak their language and discriminate against those who do not” said while speaking Amharic. Therefore, bringing them under federal government comand would eliminate that, as they are going to speak the same language which is the federal official language, Amharic.

Addressing Belayhun’s concern, Solomon suggested “making Amharic language the regions’ second official language would solve this” concern. As long as “we create healthy politics and federal system the regional special forces would not be a threat. The problem is that the federal system is not based on mutual respect, in fact, it is on “Master and Subordinate” basis. This is obvious.”

The federal system in ethiopia is based on master and subordinate relationship

Solomon W/Gebriel

This “Master and Subordinate” relationship between the federal government and regional administrations creates distrust and plot between them. Eventually, lead them to muscle up their respective forces against one another, said Abebaw Geremew a political science student at Addis Ababa University who Addis Insight talked to.

“I completely agree with what Solomon has said, if they [the federal government and the regional administrations] are able to avoid this ‘Master and Subordinate’ relationship and reestablish it with mutual respect, regional administrations would not dare to use their respective Special Forces against one another or against another regional administration and people. What happened to our National army in Tigray is the outcome of this existing relationship, one want to command and the other want to be respected.”

Kebede Adugna, a resident of Addis Ababa on his part said “as long as this country pursues ethnic politics, regional Special Forces are going to be loyal to their respective regions and national. As it happens, this racism or tribal mentality, whatever you may call it, will infiltrate in the army, and consequently, destroy us all. We have witnessed enough that member of the Army, who were also affiliated to TPLF mentality, attacked their own army and country. Unfortunately for them, did not work out their way. But, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Although those who want to keep the Special Forces alive are the ones who want to keep regional sovereignty, sometimes when you see regional Special Forces stand for the national army and fight alongside for common cause, like what the Amhara regional Special Forces did against the tPLF’s forces, creates hope, said Selam Henock, a student at New Generations University college.

“Oromia and Amhara’s regional administrations, for example, claim to be of the same political party, which is prosperity. Yet, they do not have the same political agenda. In fact; they seem to have some kind of plot against one another. They may use their respective special forces to advance this plot. If not, why did the Amhara people living in wollega say that the Oromia Region’s special force was the one that was killing them? Why do we hear the same from oromos in Amhara [special zone of oromia in Amhara region.]”

Although the fate of the Regional special forces still remain unclear, this kind of debate on the issue tells that something is going on either to bring its structure under federal government comand or continue, as it is now, under regional administrations’, but with specific and clear standards.

According to Article 51 of the Ethiopian Constitution stipulates that peace and security are a shared responsibility between the federal and regional state governments. The federal government is entrusted with establishing and administering the “national defense and public security forces as well as a federal police force,” regional states are endowed with the power “[t]o establish and administer a state police force, and to maintain public order and peace within the State” based on Article 52.