According to official media reports, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abi Ahmed has gone to the front to direct the war effort.
Fana News Media said on Wednesday that Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen Hassen will be in charge of day-to-day government affairs in the absence of Abiy.
Fana’s report said that government spokesperson Legesse Tulu detailed some of the transfer of daily duties at a press conference.
Abi announced on Monday night that he plans to personally direct the battle against Tigray’s army and its allies.
“Let us meet on the front lines of the war,” he wrote, “it is time to lead the country with sacrifice.”
Last month, Tigray’s army and its allies threatened to march on the capital Addis Ababa; they have also been fighting fiercely, trying to cut off the transportation corridor connecting inland Ethiopia with Djibouti, the main port in the region.
On Tuesday, U.S. envoy Jeffrey Feltman stated that the Ethiopian army and regional militias could stop the Tigray’s attempts to cut off the corridor, but the Tigray forces had been able to move south to Addis.
An Ethiopian military spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
It is estimated that since the Prime Minister ordered a military offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in November last year, tens of thousands of people have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fallen into famine, which ruled the central government for decades before Abiy. He took office in 2018.
The Tigrayan forces continued to advance towards Addis Ababa, claiming to take control of the town of Shewa Robit 220 kilometers (136 miles) northeast of the capital.
Most areas of northern Ethiopia are in a state of communication interruption, and access to journalists is restricted, making it difficult to verify the claims on the battlefield.
Abi’s remarks promoted the recruitment of troubled armed forces.
At least one famous long-distance runner—marathon runner and Olympic silver medalist Feyisa Lelisa—has joined the ranks of thousands of ordinary Ethiopians eager to follow Abi.
The world’s major powers have warned of military escalation, which may undermine efforts to bring about a ceasefire, as the insurgents claim that they are advancing towards the capital Addis Ababa, while foreign governments are asking their citizens to leave.
On Wednesday, hundreds of recruits participated in a memorial ceremony held in the Kolfe district of Addis Ababa.
When officials drove cattle and sheep into trucks heading north, the recruits sang patriotic songs and carols.
One of the recruits, 42-year-old driver Tesfaye Sherefa, told AFP, “I was surprised when I heard” Abi planned to join the soldiers on the battlefield.
“When a leader leaves his chair… his throne is to save his country. His focus is not to live, but to save the country. When he said’follow me’ to the front, I cried.”
Abi announced his plan to “lead the Wehrmacht” from the front on Monday night, but officials and official media did not provide details of his actions afterwards.
Nonetheless, Kolff’s recruits took his statement to heart. They wore sports T-shirts with a photo of Abi wearing a uniform with the words “We have a historical responsibility to defend the free name of Ethiopia”.
“I am proud that I am standing with him,” another recruit, 25-year-old Espalew Wale, told AFP.
The long-distance runner Feiza told the official media that the rebel attack provided an “excellent opportunity” to defend the country.
When the marathon runner completed the marathon at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, he gained political prestige by raising and crossing his arms – a reference to the Austrian who was killed while protesting the abuse committed during the nearly three years of TPLF rule. The solidarity of the Romo compatriots.
In an official media interview broadcast on Wednesday, Feisa said that he would be very happy to have the opportunity to fight TPLF in person.
“When a country is violated, I can’t stand by and watch,” he said.
Another official media report quoted Haile Gebreselassie, Ethiopia’s most famous long-distance running champion, as saying that he will also fight on the front lines.
However, the interview footage was not broadcast and AFP could not independently verify it.