Ethiopia Celebrates Its 116th National Army Day
In 1907, Ethiopian Emperor Menelik II established the country's first Ministry of Defense, then called the Ministry of War. Because the East African country was never colonized by Europe, it has one of the oldest armed forces in the region.
On October 26, Ethiopia celebrates the 116th anniversary of the establishment of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) in its modern form in 1907.
This year's celebration consisted of various activities including a military parade, performances of a marsh band orchestra, the singing of the national anthem and patriotic songs.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, numerous government and army officials attended the event at the Meskel Square in the capital, Addis Ababa.
The prime minister gave a speech to commemorate the special day, in which he praised the heroic commitment of the Ethiopian
National Defense Forces in maintaining global peace.
"The Ethiopian army has sacrificed life and limb to protect the peace of all peoples, from Korea to Somalia, regardless of the changing tides of politics," he said.
During the commemoration, he emphasized that Ethiopia has never attacked any other country.
"Our army has never initiated an attack and now we will not attack anyone," he said.
This declaration comes few weeks after the Ministry of Peace presented a draft document that stated that the access to the Red Sea is a strategic, economical and a main national
The head of state clarified that this idea should not be misunderstood as an intention to invade any country.
"Fears have been voiced that there could be an invasion when Ethiopia recently stressed the need to discuss some issues [...] there is nothing whatsoever Ethiopia intends to achieve through invasion. I would like to strongly assure you that we will not pull a trigger on our brothers to attain our needs by force," he said.
Ethiopia lost access to the Red Sea when Eritrea, with the territory along the coast of the sea, gained independence in 1993. According to the National Statistics Service, Ethiopia is the most populous landlocked state in the world, with a population of over 107 million people.