“Starting tomorrow, I will go to the war front to lead the defense forces personally,” he wrote in a statement on Twitter late Monday, calling on citizens to “lead the country with a sacrifice” and join him. “Those of you who want to be one of the children of Ethiopia celebrated in history stand up for your country today, let’s come together on the war front.”
“Past and present, the needs and lives of each of us are below [the needs of] Ethiopia, “added Abiy. We would rather die to save Ethiopia than survive Ethiopia.”
Abiy described the advance as the “last fight to save Ethiopia” from “internal and external enemies” whom he claims are “ready to build their strength on Ethiopia’s weakness”.
The statement comes after the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) – Tigray’s former ruling party – claimed its fighters captured two cities as they advanced towards the capital, Addis Ababa, more than a year after conflict broke out in the north of Tigray the land. The TPLF, which ruled the country for more than three decades before Abiy came to power in 2018, has been classified as a terrorist group by the current government.
One of the TPLF claims recorded on Saturday includes Shewa Robit, which is located approximately 220 km (136 miles) northeast of Addis Ababa. CNN was unable to reach out to the federal government to comment on the claim.
TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda responded in a tweet to Abiy’s testimony, warning that “our armed forces will not give in to their relentless progress to put an end to his stranglehold on our people”.
While the Prime Minister is on the battlefield, his duties and those of other administrators who have joined the battle are being carried out by federal and regional officials who “work to their fullest capacity” to oversee the development and administration of the country.
“Ethiopia is the name of the winner,” Abiy concluded, “I never doubt that my generation will pay the prize in their name as an icon of freedom.”
In November 2020, Abiy ordered a military offensive in the northern Tigray region and promised a quick solution to the conflict. A year later, the fighting left thousands dead, displaced more than 2 million people from their homes, fueled famine and led to a wave of atrocities.