Hailemariam promotes army generals amid tension in the country

Hailemariam promotes army generals amid tension in the country

Ethiopian Prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn promoted military commanders on Friday in show of support for the army amid political tension in the country. The promotion comes amid accusations of heavy-handed approaches by the army to subdue public protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions. Hailemarim has promoted 40 senior officers to the rank of generals, 14 brigadier generals to major-generals, three major generals to lieutenant-generals, and four lieutenant generals to generals, Radio Fana reported. Three of the latter, Seare Mekonnen Yimer, Adem Mohammed and Berhanu Jula Gelelcha would double as deputies to General Samora Muhammad Yunis, the Chief of Staff of the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF), who is rumoured to be stepping down from his position soon. The appointment of three deputy Chief of Staff from three ethnic groups, Oromo, Amhara and Tigre is widely seen an effort to bring about a proportional representation of ethnic groups in the army brass. Abraham Woldemariam Genzebu, a Tigrayan close to Samora Yunis, is left out from the deputy role, leaving some to think that he might be the one who would replace the Chief of Staff. Abraham’s promotion is seen as controversial because his name is often associated in the displacements of half million people along the borders of the Oromia and Ethiopian Somali regional states in his role as head of the Eastern Defence Command of the ENDF. Geresu Tufa, an Amsterdam based Oromo activist said that Abraham is responsible for the atrocities committed by troops under his command, and that of president of Somali Regional State Abdi Mohamud Omar. Geresu said he should be charged for genocide, not given promotion.
Hundreds have died in the protests and successive waves of repression in the last three years in the Oromia and Amhara regions. Analysts say the continuing disorder indicates a deep-rooted discontent with decades of rule by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition. A month ago, Prime Minister Hailemariam promised to free political prisoners and shut a prison infamous for torture, a promise yet to be fully fulfilled. However, security forces continued shooting, killing more than twenty in the past two weeks.

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