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Friday, September 15, 2006

Two high ranking military Officers defect

Also in the news: Meles in Havana, Ethiopia: Lowest rate of enrollment for children, Ethiopian aliya to stay at 300 a month and more of today's top stories

(Audio) Interview of Brigadier General Hailu Gonfa and Colonel Gamachu Ayana. Forward to 10:45 (OLF)


Brigadier General Hailu Gonfa
Colonel Gamachu Ayana

Until a few days ago, we were officers in the Ethiopian army sworn to protect the country’s laws and diverse people from any threats. To our deepest dismay, we have come to the conclusion that the greatest threat to Ethiopia and the people emanates not from elsewhere but from the regime on power.

Over the last years, the armed forces have been systematically reduced to protecting the narrow interest of a small clique determined to cling to power at all costs. Under the circumstances the choices confronting us are: Either to remain with the same oppressive machinery or wait and see hoping against hope that things would improve on their own or through a miracle. We have waited too long; we cannot wait any longer.

Despite the calls by opposition groups to peacefully deal with the dire situation, EPRDF is showing no inclination whatsoever to address the country’s mounting social, economic and political problems. Instead, it is intensifying repression. Even though this repressive machinery did not spare any people in the country, the magnitude and scale of repression, harassment and intimidation committed against Oromo people has no comparison. Moreover, it is considering new military adventures in the region that would not serve the legitimate interests of all affected--and could plunge the region into chaos.

Throughout the years we served this regime, we were hoping things would improve over time and expected the regime would also resolve political conflicts peacefully and truly democratize the country where political power emanates from the will of the people not from force. Now we have found this to be an empty promise. We are particularly elated that the Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AFD) has offered a hope not only to eliminate the specter of more mayhem but also chart a better future through a process of dialogue involving all stakeholders in the search for comprehensive solutions.

We regret that the regime has flagrantly, and without serious consideration, rejected this offer of goodwill and continued on its path of destruction. We cannot therefore continue to defend a minority and overwhelmingly rejected regime, sadly, that is committing untold atrocities against our own people.

It is time for us to take side in the fight between tyranny and liberty. Accordingly, we have dissociated ourselves from TPLF/EPRDF and joined the liberation struggle of our people gripped by the claws of tyranny. We have therefore joined the Oromo Liberation Front that is a member of the Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AFD) to realize the age-old dream of all peoples for freedom and democracy.

To the Ethiopian Armed Forces: The incumbent regime has been fooling us all by falsely extolling its commitment to freedom, democracy and speedy economic development. This commitment has been put to test over the last 15 years. The tyrannical behavior of the regime demonstrates that this pledge runs skin deep and does not show any sign of change, which makes all our efforts and sacrifices in vain. We believe as long as the regime continues to defy the will of the people, our problems would multiply. That is why it has to be compelled to desist from its destructive path or be removed. We therefore call on you to follow our example and join the just and popular struggle.

To the international community: The minority Ethiopian regime does not have the capacity or the legitimacy to continue to rule the country. The regime, whose dismal 15 year tenure is more than enough to gauge its goodwill, needs to be pressed rather than appeased to submit to the call for dialogue. We strongly urge you to reconsider your support for it as it does not any more serve our common strategic interests.

Also see: Ethiopian officers 'join rebels' (BBC)

Two senior Ethiopian army officers have defected to join the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), the rebel group says. The two are Brig Gen Hailu Gonfa and Col Gemechu Ayana, who commanded the Eighth Mechanized Division.(More...)

Ethiopian aliya to stay at 300 a month

Ethiopian immigrants hold up pictures of their relatives still living in Ethiopia during a demonstration outside Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office in Jerusalem September 12, 2006. About 1,000 Israelis of Ethiopian decent participated in a demonstration calling for the Israeli government to grant permission for their relatives living in Ethiopia to immigrate. REUTERS/Eliana Aponte (ISRAEL)

The rate of Ethiopian aliya will not be cut as proposed by the Treasury, but will remain at 300 people a month, according to sources close to the issue. The government will work out the financial details necessary to finalize the decision on Thursday, a highly-placed source told The Jerusalem Post. Others sources have said that there would first be an interministerial meeting on the subject before the budget is officially presented to the Knesset, but not until next week at the earliest. The draft budget, which was approved by the cabinet Tuesday night, isn't expected to reach the legislature until after the High Holy Days.(More...)

Ethiopia: Country Among Those with Lowest Rate of Enrollement for Children Education

Ethiopia is one of the Sub-Saharan countries with lowest rate of enrollment for children, according to a new report released Tuesday by the International Save the Children Alliance. The 48-page report, which was released in 40 countries worldwide said more than 43 million children living in conflict-affected countries are not able to attend school, with Ethiopia among the countries with least schooling for children.(More...)

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