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Ethiopia’s president calls for military buildup to counter Eritrea


October 8, 2007 (ADDIS ABABA) — Ethiopia’s president called on lawmakers Monday to boost the country’s military in the face of what he called a growing threat from neighbor and longtime rival Eritrea.

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Girma Wolde Giorgis

The speech, at the beginning of a parliament session and the end of Girma Woldegiorgis’ six-year term in the ceremonial post of president, included repeated calls on Eritrea to commit to peace or face the Ethiopian army. Girma repeated Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s declaration, made in June, that Ethiopia would defend itself if provoked by Eritrea.

"We have been forced to make preparations to defend ourselves against any aggression," Girma said. "We have also undertaken activities to pre-empt the extremist forces which do the bidding of the Eritrean regime."

"The government will present to the House a number of other bills specifically aimed at enhancing the capacity of our security and especially our defense forces," Girma said.

Last month, Ethiopia said it was considering terminating a peace agreement with its rival Eritrea, accusing its neighbor of breaching the terms of the deal that ended a bitter and bloody border war almost seven years ago.

The neighbors have repeatedly accused each other of not honoring the 2000 peace deal and are backing rival sides in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, where fighting has seen thousands of civilians die this year. Ethiopia also accuses Eritrea of fomenting terrorist acts in Ethiopia and of supporting Ethiopian rebels fighting for greater autonomy in eastern Ethiopia.

Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after a 30-year guerrilla war, but the border between the two was never formally demarcated. A border war that erupted in 1998 claimed tens of thousands of lives in two of the world’s poorest countries.

Monday, Girma told some 500 legislators the Ethiopian government’s efforts at initiating dialogue with Eritrea had been repeatedly rebuffed.

"Instead of focusing on improving its own worsening domestic situation, the Eritrean government is continuing its agenda of interference in the internal affairs of neighboring countries, such as the Sudan, Djibouti and Ethiopia," he said. "Moreover, it has consistently expressed its intention to instigate war with Ethiopia."

Parliament plans to elect a new president — or perhaps to re-elect Girma — on Tuesday. Former President Negaso Gidada, who was president from 1995 to 2000, likened the job to the role played by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. Candidates for the post have not been publicly announced.


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  • 9 October 2007 11:19, by Kifly Merhu

    The Ethiopian rulers are beating the war drum again. Instead of talking and solving the core issues of the mess in the Horn, they are warmongering again to bring more destruction and hate between the Horn brothers/sisters.

    When do older men get wiser? When their hair get grey or after they die?

    repondre message

    • 10 October 2007 10:56, by Iwunatu Yiwuxa

      Girma’s speech during the meeting of the MP clearly indicated that Ethiopia wanted to fight Eritrea under the cover of defending national security. The Ethiopian government is the one that destablizes the Horn and yet tries to attach this to neighboring countries. This was the general expereinces of the Ethiopian rulers, be it Haile Sellasse, Derg or whatsoever. They, instead of solving the national issues that is boiling, wanted to cover it up and try to deceive the international communities as if the source of the stability of the Horn is another country.

      hence, it is difficult to see Ethiopian rulers to think that peaceful coexistence is possible without rasing arms.

      They will lean in a hardest possible way - through armed violence only - in the language they can understand.

      repondre message

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