Nairobi, Kenya – Ethiopia’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning prime minister says he will lead his country’s army “from the battlefield” starting Tuesday, a dramatic step in a year-long devastating war.
“This is the time to lead the country with martyrdom,” Prime Minister Abi Ahmed said in a statement posted on social media on Monday night. His government declared a state of emergency earlier this month after rival Tiger forces approached the capital, Addis Ababa.
An estimated 1,000 people have been killed in fighting between Ethiopian and coalition forces and fighters from the country’s northern Tigris region, which had long dominated the national government long before Abe took office. The United States and others have warned that Africa’s second-most populous country could break the Horn of Africa and destabilize it.
The U.S. military is keeping a close eye on the situation in Ethiopia, an official told CBS News on Monday. Doing as happened in Kabul. Taliban occupation of Afghanistan.
However, the State Department has made it very clear that any American citizen is still in Ethiopia – and it is not clear how many there are – to leave without delay.
“Our main message is not to wait until the situation worsens to decide to leave,” a senior State Department official told a briefing on Monday.
“Get out of here before things change,” the official warned, noting that the US embassy in Addis Ababa was “unable to help American citizens flee” if commercial travel options were not “available.” The message appears to be leaking, according to officials in Washington. He said people were coming to the embassy for advice.
In a statement on Tuesday, Prime Minister Abe, a former soldier, did not say where he would go. His spokesman, Blaine Seyum, declined to comment.
The 45-year-old prime minister said, “Let’s meet on the battlefield.”
In response, Tiger Forces spokesman Gitachieu Reda tweeted that “our forces will not give up their invincible advance to end (Abi’s) knee to our people.” Tiger forces say they are pressuring the Ethiopian government to end a month-long blockade of the Tigre area of about 6 million people, but they also want to remove Abe from power.
The prime minister’s statement also claimed that the West was trying to defeat Ethiopia, against which his government had called the international community’s intervention. The ambassadors of the African Union and the United States have continued diplomatic efforts for a ceasefire and have negotiated a political solution without preconditions.
Shortly after Abby’s announcement, a senior State Department official told reporters that the United States still believes there is “a small window of opportunity” in the mediation effort.
Within a year, Abby’s government has gone from being a “law enforcement operation” to a “war of existence.” With the alleged weakening of the Ethiopian army in recent months, and its retreat from the Tigers in June, regional forces are growing on ethnic grounds and Abe’s government.
The prime minister chaired an executive meeting of the ruling Khushal Party on Monday, and Defense Minister Abraham Belle told state media that “all security forces will start taking special measures and strategies from tomorrow.” He declined to give details.
Abby’s announcement came as a shock to the man who nominated her for the Nobel Prize, Oval Owl, a senior law lecturer at Kelly University in the United Kingdom. “This announcement is full of testimonies and sacrifices,” he said in a tweet. “It’s very unusual and unprecedented, it shows how depressing the situation is.”
In his 2019 Nobel laureate speech, the Prime Minister spoke passionately about the war: “Years ago, I took the path of peace through the dusty trenches of war … I saw it for the first time … War is a manifestation of hell for all involved. I know because I’ve been there and back. “
Abe was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for neighboring Eritrea, on the border of which he fought during his stay in the region of Tigre.
The terms of the peace deal never came to light. Critics of the current conflict accuse the agreement of waging war against the Tiger leaders for both countries, which, despite significant development benefits, was unpopular with many Ethiopians due to 27 years of repressive rule.
Eritrean soldiers have been blamed for the worst atrocities in the war, with Abby denying for months that he was inside the Tigers.