The Cuban leader, President Fidel Castro, who is visiting Ethiopia for celebrations marking the fourth anniversary of Emperor Haile Selassie's fall from power, has defended his country's military intervention in Africa.
The Cuban leader, President Fidel Castro, who is visiting Ethiopia for celebrations marking the fourth anniversary of Emperor Haile Selassie's fall from power, has defended his country's military intervention in Africa. Dr Castro told an Afro-Arab Solidarity conference in Addis Ababa on Friday (15 September) his troops would stay in Angola and Ethiopia because they were there as an act of solidarity, and to defend a just cause.
SYNOPSIS: The highlight of the anniversary celebrations was a full scale military parade through the capital's Revolution Square. After reviewing military units, the Cuban leader joined the Head of State mengistu Haile Mariam as guest of honour when the parade passed before them in the square.
Reuters news agency ??? ??? once sources estimate Dr Castro has supplied around 17,000 Cuban troops to help Soviet-armed Ethiopia fight off a Somali invasion last March. Eyewitness ??? the parade said rows of brand new tanks, guns and missiles rumbled by , Most of the heavy armour was of Russian origin.
President Castro appeared impressed by the work put in by Cuban instructors since Ethiopia's government turned to the Soviet Union and its allies for military supplies and support last year. According to official reports, no Cuban troops took part in the big parade, but their influence was clearly shown. Addis Ababa Radio reported that Dr Castro had accepted Ethiopia's highest decoration on behalf of the Cuban Army and Cuban troops killed in the war against the Somalis.
Although the Cuban military presence has received maximum attention, Cuban politicians have continued to advocate a political solution particularly with the secessionist rebels of Eritrea. Before moving to support the Ethiopians, Cuba once trained and equipped the Eritreans. During his visit, Dr Castro is expected to urge another attempt at a negotiated settlement. But at the parade the emphasis was on military might, not on behind-the-scenes diplomacy.