The Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) today reported the defection of four senior Ethiopian Air Force pilots to join the increasingly popular Ginbot 7 opposition movement.
The names of these senior captains who abandoned the minority led government in Ethiopia are Cap. Aklilu Mezene, Cap. Tilahun Tufa, Cap. Getu Worku and Cap. Biniam Gizaw.
The captains, who believed to have great skills and experience, had previously played a major role in the 2006 Ethiopian invasion of Somalia as well as in Darfur under the UN peace keeping mission.
Their defection meant a colossal blow to the Ethiopian regime.
ESAT further reported that two of the four pilots were in China for special training before their defection while the other two abandon the regime direct from the Dire Dawa Air Force base in Ethiopia.
The defectors said the rampant tribal based discrimination and corruption within the Air Force system was the main reason behind their defection and they vowed to join their fellow freedom fighters and fight what they say is an oppressive and minority led corrupt regime.
Ethiopia is no stranger to high profile military defections. In 2005, eight Ethiopian air force pilots, who were in training in Israel, defected and claimed asylum at an Eritrean embassy in Israel.
Follwoing in 2006, over 300 Ethiopian troops, including Brigadier General Kemal Gelchu, along with his trusted colonels, defected to Eritrea.
In the last nine months alone, marathon defection of five mid to senior Ethiopian officials have also been witnessed. Including non other than Arkebe Equbay, what at once regarded as the heir apparent to the late Ethiopian dictator Meles Zenawi; Getachew Belay, the former Deputy Chief of EFFORT; Kefyalew Azeze, the former Vice Mayor of Addis Ababa; Atakliti Hagos, the former Director of the Federal Civil Service Agency and Junedin Sado, the former Minister of Civil Service.
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