The withdrawal of “special forces” formed by parts of Ethiopia has been completed, the head of the federal army announced on Sunday, ten days after the move was announced which sparked clashes in the country’s north.
On April 6, the government announced that members of these military units, which had been illegally formed for fifteen years by several Ethiopian federations in 11 states, would be “reassigned” into the federal army and police.
The start of the process sparked incidents and demonstrations in the Amhara region, whose “special forces” are particularly powerful. Generally calm returned on Thursday.
No significant incidents were reported in other areas.
“As of today, there is no regional special forces formation. Our work is done,” General Birhanu Jula said in a video statement.
Authorities will now send old special forces to their new units, train them and “reintegrate those who have lost their way in the chaos,” he explained.
The Ethiopian constitution provides that the 11 federal states drawn along linguistic and cultural lines in the country of more than 80 people have their own institutions and regional police.
But over the past 15 years, some states – including the Somali region, which has faced armed groups and infiltrations by radical al-Shabaab Islamists from neighboring Somalia – have gradually set up “special forces”, which are not provided for in the constitution but are widely tolerated.
Few have become as powerful as the Amhara Special Forces, which provided vital support to the federal army during the armed conflict against insurgents in the Tigray region between the end of 2020 and 2022.