Ethiopia: Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner joins his troops at the forefront of the battle for Tigray

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Ethiopia’s Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Abiy Ahmed, came to lead his troops in Tigray province, his government reported. The conflict exploded a year ago between the country’s Army and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which has historically controlled the region.

Ethiopia is today the scene of news that two years ago was unthinkable. The 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has once again donned his military uniform to lead the Army in the battle for Tigray.

The government reported that the president came to the forefront of the war, after noting that being a martyr could be necessary to stop the conflict a year ago with rival fighters, who threaten to approach the nation’s capital, Addis Ababa.

FILE- Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was sworn in for a second five-year term in the House of People’s Representatives in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Monday, October 4, 2021. © AP

However, state media has yet to release images of the new role of Ahmed, a 45-year-old former soldier. And its spokesperson, Billene Seyoum, has refused to provide details on its exact location.

While the prime minister is absent, the deputy prime minister, Demeke Mekonnen Hassen, will take care of routine government affairs, said another spokesman for his administration, Legesse Tulu.

The information came after Abiy indicated on Monday that he planned to personally lead the fight against the Trigayan forces and their allies.

“Let’s meet on the war front (…) The time has come to lead the country with sacrifice,” said the prime minister at the time.

Two Olympians also join the Army in the Tigray conflict

Local press also reported that two Ethiopian Olympians were enlisting in the Army: gold medalist Haile Gebreselassie, who set 27 long-distance running records, and Olympic silver medalist Reyáis Lelisa.

Ahmed has urged “all citizens” to defend their country, something that has heated the spirits of Ethiopian personalities such as the legendary ex-athlete Gebrselassie, who on Tuesday said that he will do everything he can to help his country, “including going to fight. “.

With these actions, the government and its supporters have sought to send the message to the rest of the nation that it is time to “sacrifice” and “confront” the fighters of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray (PFLT).

Abiy even seems to show that he is more interested in the military advances of his Army than in recovering his image as a conciliatory leader, already deteriorated by the war.

The president was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for radical political reforms and for achieving peace with neighboring Eritrea. But the role he has played at home since then has shocked many.

On November 3, a United Nations (UN) report noted “extreme brutality” against the civilian population caught up in the war by all the forces involved, including Ahmed’s troops.

Despite the surprise transfer of the Ethiopian ‘premier’, his decision would be in line with the tradition of other leaders of the country, including Emperor Haile Selassie and Emperor Yohannes IV, who died in war in 1889, recalled Christopher Clapham, a retired professor associated with Cambridge University.

The conflict between government forces and the TPLF exploded in November 2020, when the prime minister launched an offensive in retaliation for an attack on a federal military base, following an escalation of political tensions.

Since then, the region has lived in an endless spiral of violence in which the forces of neighboring Eritrea and the Amhara ethnic group have also been involved in favor of pro-government troops.


With Reuters, AP and EFE

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Ethiopia: Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner joins his troops at the forefront of the battle for Tigray