Ethiopia’s Prime Minister is fighting rebels on the ‘battlefield’ front, according to state media.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was on the front lines combating insurgents from the northernmost Tigray area on Wednesday, according to state-affiliated media.
The intensifying year-long battle has prompted foreign governments to advise their citizens to flee, amid fears that Tigrayan rebels may march on Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital.
According to Fana Broadcasting Corporate, Abiy, the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, “is now directing the counter-offensive” and “has been delivering guidance from the battlefield as of yesterday.”
It was unclear where Abiy, a former military radio operator who advanced to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, had deployed, and photographs of him in the field were not disseminated by state media.
Requests for information regarding his mission and whereabouts have gone unanswered.
Thousands of people have been killed and hundreds of thousands have been forced into famine-like conditions as a result of violence in the north of Africa’s second most populous country.
During a visit to Colombia on Wednesday to commemorate the fifth anniversary of a peace agreement between the government and former FARC guerrillas, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged for an immediate stop to the fighting.
“The Colombian peace process encourages me to make an urgent appeal today to the players in Ethiopia’s conflict for an unconditional and immediate ceasefire in order to rescue the country,” he added.
Foreign envoys have also been urgently attempting to broker a cease-fire, though there have been few signs of progress.
Washington’s special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, warned on Tuesday that “nascent progress” might be “outpaced by the two sides’ military buildup.”
The conflict began in November 2020, when Abiy dispatched troops to Tigray in an attempt to destabilize the ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
He said the move was in response to TPLF raids on federal army installations and promised a quick triumph, but the rebels had retaken most of Tigray, including the capital Mekele, by late June.
Since then, the TPLF has advanced into the neighboring Amhara and Afar areas, claiming control of a town within 220 kilometers (135 miles) from Addis Ababa this week.
Fana stated Wednesday that Abiy’s statement on Monday that he would deploy to the front “has spurred many to… join the survival campaign.”
Hundreds of new recruits were honored at a ceremony in the capital’s Kolfe area on Wednesday.
The recruits broke into patriotic songs and chants as officials gathered sheep and oxen into trucks destined for the north.
“When a. Brief News from Washington Newsday.