The protest by disgruntled soldiers at PM’s office was not as innocent as it first looked – experts

Experts are speculating that the soldiers’ protest was not as innocent as it first looked.

A former brigadier general told BBC Amharic that the security breach was “dangerous” and “an event which exposed the weakness of the military intelligence”.

Their demand was valid but the procedure soldiers followed violated military discipline, he said.

The general speculated that this was not a spontaneous protest. It might have been orchestrated by a group, he said.

He nonetheless thinks the prime minister deftly resolved the situation, even though the law clearly calls for disciplinary measures against the protesting soldiers.

Legal expert Dereje Zeleke agrees.

“This shows that the military and intelligence apparatus are not willing to serve the new commander-in-chief or the reform he represents,” he said.

He believes this was a message from a group resisting the many changes introduced by the prime minister since he came to power.

After meeting the soldiers on Wednesday, Mr Abiy said he would “look into their complaints” but stressed that even civil servants had to make do with low salaries as the country had limited resources.

“We have to use the money for development purposes,” he said according to a statement. “We can pay everyone higher salaries but we will end up [with] no development.”

What happened exactly?

The soldiers began massing outside the presidential compound on Wednesday morning, causing a partial roadblock in the area, the BBC’s Amharic service reports.

Around half of them were armed with Kalashnikovs and sniper rifles.

They were told by the guards that they could not enter the sprawling grounds with their guns.

Contrary to previous reports, the soldiers were disarmed outside the compound. They were only allowed into the premises in the late afternoon and the roadblock was lifted.

It is not known how much they wanted their salaries to be increased by.

By Tibebeselassie Tigabu, BBC Amharic

VIDEO: more details by ETV