Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed issued a call Tuesday for all eligible civilians to join the armed forces as fighting rages in multiple regions of Africa’s second most populous nation.
“Now is the right time for all capable Ethiopians who are of age to join the Defense Forces, Special Forces and militias and show your patriotism,” Abiy’s office said in a statement released less than two months after he declared a unilateral ceasefire in the war against Tigrayan rebels.
Northern Ethiopia has been wracked by violence since November after Abiy, the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner, sent troops into Tigray to topple its regional ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), vowing a swift victory.
But nine months later, the TPLF has made advances into the neighbouring Afar and Amhara regions, while aid workers struggle to reach cut-off populations, with 400,000 people facing famine-like conditions in Tigray, according to the UN.
On Tuesday, the government’s patience appeared to have run out, with Abiy ordering security forces “to halt the destruction of the treasonous and terrorist TPLF organisation and the machinations of foreign hands once and for all”.
Those unable to enlist could contribute in other ways, including “providing supplies and moral support for the army”, the statement said.
“Every Ethiopian must work closely with the security forces in being the eyes and ears of the country in order to track down and expose spies and agents of the terrorist TPLF.”