By Tesfa-Alem Tekle, ST
Ethiopia will increase its military spending to safeguard itself from its enemies, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said Saturday, days after Addis Ababa threatened to take military action against neighboring Eritrea.
Zenawi, who is also the commander-in-chief of the National Defense Forces, did not disclose how much the increase would be.
The Ethiopian leader made the remarks while addressing senior military officers at the Ethiopian Defense Command and Staff College where he presented certificates to graduates.
“While nation is marching toward realizing renaissance we have noticed wide activities from enemies to disrupt this track” Zenawi said citing the activities of what he said were Eritrea-backed groups.
“To defend our country from enemy attacks and to sustain the ongoing economic development we will be increasing our military expenditure” he said.
According to Zenawi, the Ethiopian government will reinforce existing military institutions and has planned to open new ones to acquaint the army with the latest military technology and to create an effective and advanced military force in terms of technology and effectiveness. He urged the army to discharge their responsibilities safeguard their people and country.
Last year, the horn nation spent a $5.3 billion in its budget for the 2010/2011 fiscal year, mainly prioritizing to infrastructure, education, health, water and sanitation activities.
Eritrea and Ethiopia are involved in an ongoing border row that has remained unresolved despite the signing of a peace deal that ended their two-year war in 2000 which killed 70,000 people.
Since then, the two neighbors have been trading accusations of arming and supporting each others’ rebels to disrupt peace and security.
On Wednesday Ethiopia warned neighboring Eritrea to refrain from what it said was to the ongoing terrorist acts Asmara sponsors under the alleged motto “Making Ethiopia the Other Bagdad”.
Ethiopian officials warned they would take military action unless the Red Sea nation stops the continued ‘’subversive activities” against Ethiopia.
Ethiopia also has long accused Eritrea to a number of terrorist attacks and plots in its soil, an allegation Asmara denies. Eritrean officials have not yet commented on the latest Ethiopian allegations.