Ethiopia’s Abiy vows to head to frontline to lead fight against rebel forces

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali during a press conference at Chigi Palace in Rome, Italy, 21 January 2019, Christian Minelli/ Getty Images

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said Monday he would head to the war front to lead soldiers battling rebels, as the year-long conflict moves closer to the capital Addis Ababa.

“Starting tomorrow, I will mobilise to the front to lead the defence forces,” Abiy, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, said in a statement posted on Twitter.

Ahmed called on “all patriotic Ethiopians” to join him in frontline combat against forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

“The time necessitates leading the nation through martyrdom. To this end, I will march to the battlefield from tomorrow onwards to lead our defense forces,” Ahmed said in his call to the nation. “Those who want to be among the Ethiopian children who will be hailed by history, rise up for your country today. Let’s meet at the front.”

Abiy’s statement came as the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) rebel group continued to press towards Addis Ababa, claiming control of the town of Shewa Robit, just 220 kilometres (136 miles) northeast of the capital by road.

It also came after the ruling Prosperity Party’s executive committee met Monday to discuss the war, which has dragged on for a year.

The conflict erupted in November 2019 in Ethiopia’s northernmost Tigray region between forces loyal to the TPLF and the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF).

Over the past months, forces loyal to the rebel group TPLF have advanced southward into central parts of the East African country.

This was, eventually, followed by huge popular mobilization in the Amhara and Afar regions as well as other regional states in the country to fight back the TPLF’s expansion.

Earlier this month, the Ethiopian House of People’s Representatives (HoPR) ratified a six-month state of emergency rule to contain the rebel group’s advancement and to ensure the country’s peace and security.


Story compiled with assistance from wire reports

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