Members of National Defense Forces tender their apologies
Admitting that their approaches were mistaken, members of the National Defense Forces who marched on the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) on October 10, 2018 to discuss salary and benefit packages, have expressed their regret and formally asked for the pardon of the government.
It is to be recalled that their actions last week has sent shockwaves across Addis Ababa where roads were closed and the internet was shut down for hours.
The group of the army men, who were said to be 240 in number, came to the OPM uninvited in the afternoon of October 10 asking to speak to the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD). At the time, Abiy was chairing a cabinet meeting where all the ministers were in the same compound.
The soldiers arrived at the PM’s, fully armed and asked to enter into the compound with their arms. Later on, they agreed to lay down their armament and met the Prime Minister.
After hours of tension across the city as well as the country, due to information gap on what was taking place in Arat Kilo; Abiy appeared in the state media and said that the primary demands of the army members were to meet him and discuss their concerns.
Abiy, former military man, also did few press-up exercises with some of the soldiers, in what was said to be a show of comradery. PM Abiy’s physical exercise stunt went viral on social media as well as international news outlets throughout the week.
Following this encounter, the soldiers sat for a two-day discussion with the Army Chief of Staff, Seare Mekonnen (Gen), and minister of Defense, Motuma Mekassa and finally decided to tender their apologies.
“At the time, when the soldiers were coming to the PM’s Office, we had no prior knowledge about their activities,” Motuma told The Reporter.
“Once we knew about what has happened, we had to take precautions and secured some of the key government institutions,” Motuma said failing to disclose those institutions.
However, according to sources, institutions like the state owned media, the office of the PM as well as Office of the President of Oromia Regional State, Lemma Megersa were seen heavily guarded by security forces, once the incident was known.
“Work will be done to identify how the military chain of command failed to mitigate the incident before it reached this level,” Motuma told The Reporter.