In Revolution Square, Addis Ababa, thousands of people demonstrated on May 11 in support of the government's proclamation launching national military service.
GV AND SVs Demonstrators marching in Revolution Square, Addis Ababa; carrying banners and flags, shouting slogans (4 shots)
TOP VIEW Crowd gathered in Revolution Square (2 shots)
SV Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam, Ethiopian Head of State, speaking
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Background: In Revolution Square, Addis Ababa, thousands of people demonstrated on May 11 in support of the government's proclamation launching national military service. Members of the crowd carried banners and chanted slogans backing the decree that legalized conscription in Ethiopia for the first time. Traditional battle songs were sung during the rally in the Ethiopian capital, which was addressed by Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam, the head of state. In his speech, Colonel Mengistu recalled that weakened defences had caused disasters in past revolutions. Ethiopia already has a professional army estimated to be the largest in black Africa. In the proclamation, issued on May 5, men between the ages of 16 and 30 are required to register for pre-induction training. Military service was defined by the proclamation as 6 months' training followed by two years service in the army, police or border guard. Ethiopia's Soviet-equipped forces are engaged in anti-guerrilla operations in Eritrea and Tigray Provinces and large units are believed to be permanently based opposite the often tense Somali border.