February 28, 2009 (ADDIS ABABA) — An Ethiopian opposition party slammed the signing of defense agreement between South Africa and Ethiopia urging Pretoria to abrogate it without delay.
South Africa and Ethiopia agreed on February 13 to strengthen military cooperation including the exchange and training of military personnel, instructors and observers and promoting technical co-operation.
Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party (EPRP), a social democratic political organization, condemned in a statement released Friday the military pact adding it "is counter to the basic interest of the Ethiopian people and to the search for peace in the region as a whole."
The Ethiopian defense minister Siraj Fergesa said the deal was motivated by the commitment of the two countries to support peace efforts in the continent under the auspice if the African Union.
However the opposition party who denounced the "repressive" nature of the Ethiopian government said the AU peacekeeping mission has not up to now "served the interest of the African peoples."
The EPRP also called on South Africa to stop any cooperation with the Ethiopian government and appealed to the "democratic forces in South Africa to support the struggle of the Ethiopian people" and to show their opposition to the deal.
Ethiopia and South Africa are taking part in the hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur. South Africa participates since 2004 when the African Union dispatched some 7000 troops there and Ethiopia started since last year with two battalions.