OCTOBER witnessed a record-breaking spike in the number of Ethiopian Air Force pilots defecting into Eritrea.
According to information posted by a senior Eritrean official, a total of Eight Air Force pilots have joined the struggle against the Ethiopian regime after successfully defecting into Eritrea.
In an interview one of the pilots conducted with the Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT), Daniel Abera Mekonen, Captain of SU-25 fighter jets, explains why he and the rest of the group decided to abandon the ethnocentric regime. He said the extremely alarming ethnic based policies, discrimination and rampant corruption within the army and Air Force system are reasons for their defection. (Listen the interview below)
Captain Daniel Abera Mekonen also said he rather prefers to join Ethiopian freedom fighters who wage an armed struggle against the minority led regime than being part of it.
Captain Daniel Abera Mekonen embraced the Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front (EPPF) while others join the Ginbot 7 movement, both are based in Eritrea.
The arrival of these Ex-Air Force pilots coincides with EPPFs 15th years anniversary of the armed struggle.
Ato Mengistu Haileslassie, EPPF’s Chief of Political Affairs, said the celebration that was observed on October 18, 2014 in the presence of Gibot 7 and Amhara Democratic Forces was the last as EPPF.
He said, the occasion was also taken as a ground for joining the three armed forces in to one. He also adds the final preparation to bring the three force under one armed front is in its final stage and will be operational before the end of the year.
Ethiopia is no stranger to high profile military defection. In 2005, Seven air force pilots, who were in training in Israel defected and claimed asylum at an Eritrean embassy in Israel. In 2013, another Four senior Air Force pilots abandon the regime and joined the Ginbot 7 movement with their fighter jets and helicopters.
Eight #Ethiopia Air Force pilots defect this month bringing the number of Air Force deserters to eight & revealing serious problems.
— warsai gedim (@warsaigedim) October 31, 2014