by H. Haverstock, The Chicago Times
November 23, 2021
ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopia’s Prime Minister said he would lead his country’s army on the battle field beginning Tuesday.
Tens of thousands of people are thought to have died in the growing civil war between Ethiopian and Tigray forces. The United States and others have warned that Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous country, could divide and collapse.
“This is a time when martyrdom is required to lead a country.” Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said in a statement.
The prime minister, a former soldier, did not specify where he will go on Tuesday.
Tigray military officials stated, “our forces will not relent on their inexorable advance towards breaking Abiy’s chokehold on our people.”
Tigray officials say they are putting pressure on Ethiopia’s government to ease a months-long siege of the Tigray area, which has a population of 6 million people, but they also want Abiy out of office.
Abiy’s message also stated that the West is attempting to defeat Ethiopia, the latest retaliation for what his administration has labeled as international interventionism. Envoys from the African Union and the United States have maintained diplomatic efforts in pursuit of a cease-fire and talks on a political solution without preconditions.
Over the year, Abiy’s government has shifted from calling the Tigray conflict a “law enforcement operation” to rebranding the conflict as an “existential war.”
With Ethiopia’s military weakened in recent months, including its withdrawal from Tigray in June, ethnic-based regional groups have stepped up, and Abiy’s government has urged all able citizens to join the war.