Ethiopian leader headed to battlefront against Tigray rebels

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's announcement that he will lead army at front comes as rebels advance towards capital

Addis Getachew   | 22.11.2021
Ethiopian leader headed to battlefront against Tigray rebels


Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced Monday he will personally proceed to the front to lead the nation's army in countering a group of rebels that is advancing towards the capital.

"Beginning tomorrow, I will be on the battlefield in person to lead the army," Abiy, commander in chief of the armed forces, said in a statement covered widely by local media.

Abiy made the astounding announcement in the face of intensified fighting between government forces and Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) rebels who in recent months have gotten backing from the Oromo Liberation Army-Shene, both declared terrorist organizations by the Ethiopian parliament.

Fierce fighting is being reported around Showa Robit, a town about 200 kilometers (124 miles) northeast of the capital Addis Ababa, as well as several other fronts in Amhara state which the rebels have encroached.

According to Abiy, the rebels have backing from outside forces.

The government of Ethiopia has been embroiled in armed conflict with the Tigray rebels since last November.

Abiy described the current conflict as one waged in coordination with internal and foreign enemies – the latter wishing to subdue the state of Ethiopia in a neocolonial move.

He called on Ethiopians to join him in the fight while urging solidarity from fellow Africans.

Earlier Abiy expressed appreciation for diaspora Ethiopians who held rallies in 27 cities in the US, Canada, Europe, and South Africa calling for an end to foreign interference in their home country.

- Millions of civilians at risk amid conflict

Earlier this month, Ethiopia’s 547-seat parliament met and endorsed almost unanimously a six-month nationwide state of emergency declared by the Cabinet.

The UN is reportedly drawing up criminal charges against the warring sides and has decried reported mass detentions, killings, systematic looting, and sexual violence with widespread civilian suffering.

According to a UN report, more than 5.2 million people across Tigray – more than 90% of the region's population – require life-saving assistance.

Nearly 400,000 people are facing famine-like conditions and more than 100,000 children in Tigray could suffer life-threatening malnutrition in the next 12 months.

The war has claimed thousands of innocent lives and left many injured.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which has been fighting the Ethiopian government for nearly a year, have joined forces in an alliance with opposition groups to form a party against Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Amnesty International has said it noted a significant rise in social media posts inciting violence and using ethnic slurs against Tigrayans, some of which have gone unchecked.

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