Selamawit Kassa, Ethiopian federal government spokeswoman

Ethiopia to Integrate Regional Forces into Army, Police

Politics News

Could this lead to war between Amhara and the federal government?

The Ethiopian government has stated that it intends to disband regional forces established by various regional states, with the aim of integrating them into the federal army, police, or civilian life, a government spokeswoman said, in a move expected to arouse opposition.

“Special forces members in the entirety of Ethiopia will be reorganized with their choices fully guaranteed and their desires respected,” federal government spokeswoman Selamawit Kassa told a press conference on Friday.

Her remarks came after the government communications services on Thursday issued a statement announcing the start of “practical activity to integrate the regions’ security forces into various security structures.”

“The government has set a direction to build one strong and centralized army … it has started practical steps that will allow special forces of every region to be integrated into different security structures,” the government states.

Hours before the announcement, local media from the Amhara region, Ethiopia’s second-largest, reported clashes between national and regional forces brought about by a refusal among Amhara Special Forces’ units to surrender weapons as part of the integration process.

A government statement following reports of localized unrest in Amhara where regional forces have begun to disarm, with Selamawit on Friday blaming the spread of “false information”.

“The society shouldn’t listen to false information… intended to confuse the population and to create a country which has a weak and disintegrated force,” she said.

Ethiopia’s constitution allows its 11 states, drawn up along linguistic and cultural lines, to operate their own regional police forces. But over the last 15 years, some states have gradually established their own “special forces“, acting outside these constitutional constraints.

In Amhara, which neighbors Tigray, forces of this kind as well as local militias bolstered support for federal forces in their two-year war against Tigrayan rebels until a peace deal was signed in November 2022. (AFP & AlJazeera)