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On Guard

On Guard

PM Abiy inaugurates 2.5 Billion Sheger Park

In an unusual show of force, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s (PhD)new elite force—The Republican Guard— displayed military equipment, armor and skills at the inauguration of the 2.5-billion-birr Sheger Park, located off Lorenzo Te’azaz Street, on Thursday. Part of the 29-billion-birr initiative to beautifying Addis Ababa, the inauguration of the Park, which houses the Brethren Square, rather appeared more of a military parade and show of force than an event to mark the completion of a project that was constructed and partly financed by Chinese companies and the government.

The show acted out by the elite force of the Republican Guard, included acrobatics, attack and defense tactics, helicopter-top surveying, and the like. PM Abiy and President Sahele-Work Zewudie received military salutations while arriving at the scene and as they make their way to the podium to address the 1000 attendees. Such display of force and military capacities was customary during military day celebrations in the country; but it was unaccustomed to see such display of force by an elite regiment. Although it is not clear why the Prime Minister wanted to have this parade as the main part of the ceremony, some speculated to the link the current parade has with the military parade held weeks ago in Mekelle and other towns in Tigray Regional State.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) along with the first lady and President Sahele-Work Zewudie inaugurated the 2.5-billion-birr Sheger Park project, this week. This project is part of the 29-billion-birr Sheger Beautifying Project that he launched this year.

The new park located in front of the Sheraton Hotel, off Lorenzo Te’azaz Street, hosts an artificial lake, an amphitheater, flower display and restaurants. The inauguration of the park also featured a military parade by the newly instituted elite force – The Republican Guard. The Guard showed their arms, armored vehicles, and skills including helicopter surveying, acrobatics, bodily strength and self-defense and attack.

Nations, companies and individuals including the Chinese Embassy, the Chinese Economic Commission representative to Ethiopia, project managers and designers, daily laborers as well as leaders were recognized at the event. They were presented with a certificate of recognition.

The investment for the project came partly from the five-billion-birr per plate dinner that Abiy held at the Unity Park for about 250 individuals. These individuals that contributed a sum of 1.2 billion birr were also recognized at the event. The whole project that extends from Entoto forest to Akaki River to the South of Addis Ababa extends 56 kilometers following the riversides. It also involves cleaning the riversides and building walkways. A big library and a science museum are also part of the project.

As the PM has been saying repeatedly, the project is expected to have a ripple effect and expand nationwide. For this, he has now launched a five and ten-million-birr per palte dinner galas for VIP and VVIPs. This one intends to generate three billion birr from individuals and three billion more from various sources to finance three tourist sites – Gorgora in Amhara Regional State, Wonchi in Oromia Regional State and Koysha in Southern Region.

During the inauguration, President Sahele-Work Zewudie appreciated the quality of the project and stated that it will definitely raise the status of Addis Ababa which is also a seat for African Union and various international organizations and diplomatic missions. She stressed, “If our efforts of beautifying our nation go hand in hand with other development efforts, we can change the image of the country within a short period of time.”

The inaugural ceremony was attended by more than 1000 individuals from various walks of life.