• Short Summary

    Ethiopia's ruler, Lieutenant Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam has tripled the size of his country's armed forces since he came to power in February this year.

  • Description

    Ethiopia's ruler, Lieutenant Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam has tripled the size of his country's armed forces since he came to power in February this year. Ethiopia is reported to have built up a people's militia of more than 100,000, which is expected to be merged eventually into the regular army. This is part of the three-pronged programme that the ruling Provisional Military Administrative Council is pursuing to organise, politicise and arm the Ethiopian people.

    SYNOPSIS: These workers in Addis Ababa are bustling along for another day at their workbenches and on the assembly lines.

    In this textile factory, as in many others in the capital and throughout the country, the day will also bring its period of what the military rulers call politicisation. The new trade unions, formed since the overthrow of the late Emperor Haile Selassie in September 1974, are said to want these meetings.

    Their main purpose is to tell the workers in what has been proclaimed a Socialist state what good production is all about and how they can apply themselves to improve it.

    The All Ethiopia Trade Union was set up in January 1977 and has 300,000 members in factories and on cooperative farms throughout the country.

    Men and women workers are both included in the indoctrination classes, which teach them the Marxist-Leninist philosophies, that the rulers contend will help their working conditions.

    Workers taken into the militia are trained in factory yards and on their farms. As members of the militia reach a certain proficiency, they are merged into regular army forces. Diplomats in Addis Ababa say the leaders' aim in to create a people's army on the model of China, capable of defending and advancing Ethiopia's Marxist revolution.

    Much of the increased military strength is needed for fighting invading Somali forces in the south east of the country. Late in August, the Ethiopians were said to have lost control of the region. And most of Ethiopia's Red Sea province of Eritrea in the north has been reported to be in the hands of secessionist guerrillas. Confirmed information from both battlefronts has been limited. But the conflict in south east Ethiopia is believed to involve more sophisticated equipment, larger numbers of trained troops and more continuously ferocious fighting than any conflict in Africa south of the Sahara since World War Two. Observers do not predict any immediate change to the army's supremacy in fighting and say that the militia will continue to play a support role.

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    Media URN:
    Reuters - Including Visnews
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