Saturday, May 26, 2007

Top officers meet in conclave

Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1214 25/05/2007

A group of top-ranking Ethiopian military officers have been meeting in a closed session at the ministry of defence in Addis Ababa for the past week. They were asked to check in their cell-phones at the cloakroom before being allowed into the meeting room. The subject of their meeting was not disclosed to the public. However, according to information pieced together from a variety of sources by The Indian Ocean Newsletter, there was a considerable divergence of opinion during the meeting over the situation in Somalia and the continuing defections of Ethiopian servicemen who flee to Eritrea. Certain Tigrayan generals are believed to have felt that some of their men and lower officers from the Amhara and Oromo ethnic groups could be enticed by the ideas of the Ethiopian opposition groups. The fourth army division is already showing signs of internal tension.

Furthermore, official banners have begun to appear in Addis Ababa displaying the words "betigil memot hiwot" which means to die struggling is to be alive. This is an odd hark back to an old revolutionary slogan of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Party (EPRP, opposition) dating from the 1970s. In fact, the Ethiopian government wants to honour the victims of the red terror (under the reign of Haile Mariam Mengistu) on May 27 and the national radio station has started playing EPRP songs. The reasoning behind this government strategy of taking over symbols associated with this opposition party still remains somewhat obscure.