Ethiopia’s prime minister says he is going to the front to lead the army

The announcement from the Nobel Prize winner on Monday night is described by the news agency AP as a dramatic development after a year of war in Ethiopia.

Forces from the Tigray Liberation Army (TPLF) are moving ever closer to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, and the government declared a state of emergency earlier in November.

“This is a time when it is necessary to lead a country to martyrdom,” says Abiy, without elaborating on exactly where he intends to travel on Tuesday.

– Let’s meet at the battle front, says the 45-year-old, who has previously been a soldier.

Military career

It is estimated that tens of thousands of people were killed in the war between the government army and allied forces and fighters from the Tigray region in the north of the country. The UN has accused all parties to the conflict of having committed serious human rights abuses, and millions have been forced to flee.

Abiy belongs to the country’s largest ethnic group the Oromos and is a Pentecostal friend. As a 14-year-old, he was a child soldier in the Oromo militia, which then fought shoulder to shoulder with TPLF in the fight against the country’s then military junta.

When the TPLF moved into government offices, he embarked on a military career, and for many years was an officer in the military intelligence service.

Praise for peace efforts

After almost 30 years of TPLF rule, Abiy became Prime Minister of Ethiopia in 2018. The following year, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts for peace, and especially for his efforts to resolve the conflict with neighboring Eritrea.

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In November 2020, Abiy launched a major military offensive in Tigray after TPLF soldiers took control of the government forces’ large military base outside the regional capital, Mekele.

In one year, Abiy’s government has gone from describing the conflict as a police operation, to referring to it as an “existential war”. Regional militias divided into ethnic groups have been given an increasing role in the war in recent months, and Abiy’s government has asked all citizens who are able to do so to join the fight.

When Abiy received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019, he spoke passionately about war:

– War is the very epitome of hell on earth for everyone involved. I know, because I’ve been there and come back. “I have seen brothers slaughter their brothers on the battlefield,” he said.

Accusations against the West

On Monday, Defense Minister Abraham Belay told state media that “from tomorrow, all security forces will begin to take special measures and tactics”, without elaborating.

In a statement on Monday, Abiy claimed that the West was trying to defeat the Ethiopians. The government has criticized the world community for interfering in Ethiopia’s internal affairs. Diplomats from the United States and the African Union have refused to give up an attempt to negotiate a peaceful solution in the form of a ceasefire.

At the same time, hundreds of thousands of people are threatened by a famine disaster in Tigray, which has been cut off from the outside world for months as a result of the blockade of government forces.

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