Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Saturday 6 November 2021 that Ethiopia must be ready to “make sacrifices” in order to save the country, as fighting escalates in the north between government forces and Tigray rebels who threaten to advance into the capital.
“There are sacrifices to be made, but these sacrifices will save Ethiopia,” Abiy Ahmed wrote in a short message on Twitter.
“We faced adversity and obstacles, and this made us stronger… We have more allies than those who turned against us,” he added.
For its part, the Government Communications Office confirmed in a tweet on Twitter, “It is an honor for us to die for our sovereignty, unity and identity. No affiliation with Ethiopia without sacrifices.”
These statements come the day after the announcement of a coalition of nine rebel organizations from different regions and ethnicities in Ethiopia, around the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which has been fighting government forces for more than a year.
This “united front” aims to “overthrow the regime” of Abyei Ahmed, as announced by the front’s representative, Burhan Gebrechristos, at the signing of this alliance in Washington.
Last weekend, the Tigray Liberation Front claimed responsibility for capturing two strategic towns in the Amhara region where its fighters had advanced after recapturing their stronghold of Tigray in June.
The Tigray People’s Liberation Front said on Wednesday that it had reached the Kimisi district, 325 kilometers north of the capital, Addis Ababa, where it had joined the Oromo Liberation Army, the ethnic Oromo armed group. The two organizations did not rule out the march to Addis Ababa.
Joint Declaration at the United Nations
The government, which on Tuesday declared a state of emergency across the country, denied any significant progress by the rebels and any threat to the capital, stressing that it would win this “existential war”.
Prime Minister Pelin Seyoum’s spokeswoman criticized Friday’s “alarming rhetoric” fueled by “disinformation” from the TPLF aimed at creating a “false sense of insecurity”.
The two camps are still silent about the international calls for a ceasefire and negotiations conveyed by the US envoy to the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, who is in the Ethiopian capital.
In the face of this escalation, a number of embassies, including the missions of the United States, Saudi Arabia, Sweden and Norway, asked their nationals to leave Ethiopia.
The UN Security Council on Friday called for “an end to the fighting and the negotiation of a permanent ceasefire” in a rare joint statement since the fighting began a year ago.
On November 4, 2020, Abyei Ahmed, the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, sent the army to Tigray to oust the Tigray People’s Liberation Army (TPLA) branch of the region, whom he accused of attacking military bases.
He declared his victory on 28 November. But in June, the LTTE fighters recaptured most of Tigray and continued their offensive in the neighboring Afar and Amhara regions.
The fighting, which has killed thousands and displaced hundreds of thousands, has plunged the north of the country into a deep humanitarian crisis.
The United Nations says at least 400,000 people are on the brink of starvation in Tigray, where it has not been able to deliver aid since October 18.
The conflict has also exacerbated ethnic differences, especially on social networks, where war rhetoric and calls for hatred are common.
On Saturday, Twitter announced that it had “temporarily disabled” in Ethiopia the “Trends” section, which includes the most popular tweets on a topic, due to the “imminent threat of physical attacks.”
“Inciting violence or dehumanizing people is against our rules,” the network said.
For its part, Facebook’s parent company Meta announced Wednesday that it had deleted a message to Abiy Ahmed sent on Sunday calling for the “burial” of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.
The declaration of a state of emergency led to a series of security operations.
Amnesty International condemned these emergency measures, which in its view constitute a “plan to escalate human rights violations”.
Lawyers told AFP that thousands of Tigrayans have been arrested since Tuesday, while the authorities assert that they only target supporters of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.