Prime Crime Minister, Meles Zenawi Chenawi on Tuesday said his government’ will buy 200 amoured tanks to replace an old fleet as the country moves strengthen its defense capacity. Meles told parliament that government had allocated about 1.2 percent of its US$ 6.8 billion 2011/2012 budget to security.
“This defense budget includes the buying of 200 tanks, which some of you are asking for clarification,” he said.
He said the current tanks, aged between 50 and 60 years old can longer travel more than 200 kilometers for a military operation.
“Many of these old tanks are above the age of the majority of you MPs here in the house,” Meles said.
The PM said the tanks, mostly second hand, will be upgraded to fit the military’s expectations. He stopped short of mentioning the origin of the tanks. But there were reports that Ethiopia had agreed to buy around 200 T-72 tanks worth over US$100 million from Ukraine.
A news agency claimed that the deal was made last month between the Ethiopian government and unnamed Ukrainian arms dealers.
Ethiopia is battling an armed rebellion in the oil rich Orgaden region near Somalia. It also accuses its neighbour Eritrea of sponsoring insurgents who enter its territory.