clearn.png
Tuesday December 7th, 2021 6:46AM

Ethiopia says PM, a Nobel Peace laureate, is at battlefront

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Ethiopia’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning prime minister has gone to the battlefront, his government announced Wednesday, after the leader said martyrdom might be necessary in the yearlong war with rival fighters approaching the capital.

State media showed no images of Abiy Ahmed, a 45-year-old former soldier, and his spokeswoman Billene Seyoum dismissed a request for details on his location as “incredible.” He arrived at the front Tuesday, according to a government spokesman.

Tens of thousands of people have died in the war between Ethiopian federal and allied troops and fighters from the country's Tigray region. The prospect of the ancient nation breaking apart has alarmed both Ethiopians and observers who fear what would happen to the often turbulent Horn of Africa at large. Countries including France, Germany and Turkey have told their citizens to leave immediately.

Abiy was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize just two years ago for sweeping political reforms and for making peace with neighboring Eritrea. His trajectory from winning the Nobel to now potentially heading into battle has shocked many.

But a move to the front would follow the tradition of Ethiopian leaders including Emperor Haile Selassie and Emperor Yohannes IV, who was killed in battle in 1889, said Christopher Clapham, a retired professor associated with the University of Cambridge.

“It strikes me as a very traditional Ethiopian exertion of leadership,” Clapham said. “It might be necessary to rescue what looks like a very faltering Ethiopian military response."

The Tigray forces, who had long dominated the national government before Abiy came to power, appear to have the momentum. They’ve approached the capital of Addis Ababa in recent weeks with the aim of strengthening their negotiating position or simply forcing the prime minster to step down.

While unusual, a leader's move to the front has occurred elsewhere in Africa, but at times with deadly results: Chad's longtime president, Idriss Deby Itno, was killed while battling rebels in April, according to the military.

“The situation is extremely dangerous,” said Adem Abebe, researcher with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. “If (Abiy) gets hurt or killed, it’s not just the federal government that will collapse, the army will as well.”

The prime minister announced earlier this week that he would go to the battlefront, saying that “this is a time when leading a country with martyrdom is needed.” The deputy prime minister is handling the government’s day-to-day operations in the meantime, spokesman Legesse Tulu said Wednesday.

Abiy also invited Ethiopians to join him — the latest call for every able citizen in the country of more than 110 million people to fight. There have been reports of hurried military trainings and allegations of forced conscription in recent months, while analysts have warned that, with the military apparently weakened, ethnic-based militias are stepping up.

“He may be seriously considering becoming a martyr,” said the man who nominated Abiy for the Nobel, Awol Allo, a senior lecturer in law at Keele University in Britain.

Allo said the move fits with the prime minister’s view of himself and his sense that he was destined to lead. But he also didn’t rule out the possibility that Abiy may have simply left the capital for a safer location — not the front — and was directing the war from there.

U.S. envoy Jeffrey Feltman told reporters on Tuesday that he fears that “nascent” progress in mediation efforts with the warring sides could be outpaced by the “alarming” military developments.

The war began in November 2020, when a growing political rift between the Tigray leaders and Abiy's government broke into open conflict. Abiy quietly allowed soldiers from Eritrea to enter Tigray and attack ethnic Tigrayans, resulting in some of the worst atrocities of the war. He denied the Eritreans’ presence for months.

The Tigray forces have said they want Abiy out, among other demands. Abiy’s government wants the Tigray forces, which it has designated as a terrorist group, to withdraw to their region as part of their conditions.

“Unless there is some kind of divine intervention, I don’t see any chance for a peaceful resolution through dialogue because the positions are highly polarized,” said Kassahun Berhanu, professor of political science at Addis Ababa University, who added he believed Abiy’s announcement about going to the front is “aimed at boosting popular morale."

Millions of civilians are trapped and going hungry amid the fighting. Ethiopia's government has blockaded the Tigray region for several months, saying it fears that humanitarian aid will end up in the hands of fighters, while hundreds of thousands of people in the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions are beyond the reach of significant aid as Tigray forces advance through those areas.

One target of the Tigray forces appears to be the supply line from neighboring Djibouti to Ethiopia's capital, and the U.S. envoy warned the fighters against cutting off that road or entering Addis Ababa.

That could be “catastrophic” for the country, Feltman said to reporters on Tuesday.

African Union envoy Olesegun Obasanjo also has been mediating but has not spoken publicly about his work in recent days.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP World News
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Germany set for new government that will end Merkel's reign
Two of the prospective partners say a three-party agreement to form the next German government will be presented on Wednesday
7:58AM ( 12 minutes ago )
Germany faces grim COVID milestone with leadership in flux
Germany is set to mark 100,000 deaths from COVID-19 this week, passing a somber milestone that several of its neighbors crossed months ago but which Western Europe’s most populous nation had hoped to avoid
7:54AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Ethiopia says PM, a Nobel Peace laureate, is at battlefront
Ethiopia’s government says Nobel Peace Prize-winning Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has gone to the battlefront to take charge in a yearlong war as rival fighters approach the capital
7:36AM ( 33 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Ethiopia says Abiy at war front, handing duties to deputy
Ethiopia’s government says Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has gone to the battlefront to take charge in a yearlong war and left the daily work of running the country to his deputy as rival fighters approach the capital, Addis Ababa
5:52AM ( 2 hours ago )
On the road again: Travelers emerge in time for Thanksgiving
Millions of Americans are loading up their cars or piling onto planes, determined to reclaim Thanksgiving traditions that were put on pause last year by the pandemic
5:39AM ( 2 hours ago )
Sweden's parliament approves first female prime minister
Sweden’s parliament has approved Magdalena Andersson as the country’s first female prime minister
5:35AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP National News
It's not just Manchin: Dems' $2T bill faces Senate gauntlet
Democrats have finally driven President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion package of family services, health care and climate initiatives through the House
12:12AM ( 7 hours ago )
Elizabeth Holmes denies deception at her criminal trial
Biotechnology entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes, a former billionaire accused of engineering a massive scam, expressed some remorse while on the witness stand Tuesday, but denied trying to conceal that her company’s blood-testing methods weren’t working as she had promised
12:06AM ( 8 hours ago )
Child is 6th death in Waukesha parade crash; suspect charged
An 8-year-old boy is the sixth person to die as a result of a man driving his SUV into a suburban Milwaukee Christmas parade
10:59PM ( 9 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
German business confidence drops for 5th consecutive month
A closely watched survey shows that German business confidence has dropped for the fifth consecutive month amid persistent supply-chain bottlenecks and a resurgence of coronavirus infections in Europe’s biggest economy
6:16AM ( 1 hour ago )
Australia’s Barrier Reef erupts in color as corals spawn
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is spawning in an explosion of color as the World Heritage-listed natural wonder recovers from life-threatening coral bleaching episodes
5:48AM ( 2 hours ago )
Coronavirus infections hit new record high in Czech Republic
Coronavirus infections in the Czech Republic have soared to a new record high, reaching almost 26,000 daily cases
5:25AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP World News
Germany set for new government that will end Merkel's reign
Two of the prospective partners say a three-party agreement to form the next German government will be presented on Wednesday
7:58AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Germany faces grim COVID milestone with leadership in flux
Germany is set to mark 100,000 deaths from COVID-19 this week, passing a somber milestone that several of its neighbors crossed months ago but which Western Europe’s most populous nation had hoped to avoid
7:54AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Dutch ICU boss calls for tough lockdown to rein in virus
Social distancing has became mandatory again across the Netherlands as coronavirus infections continue to soar
7:35AM ( 35 minutes ago )
EU urged not to forget Belarus as bloc prepares sanctions
Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya is appealing to the European Union not to forget the plight of ordinary citizens and political prisoners in the former Soviet country
7:17AM ( 54 minutes ago )
Balkan neighbors mourn victims of bus fire in Bulgaria
Bulgaria and North Macedonia have begun periods of national mourning in honor of the victims of a bus crash that killed 45 people and injured six others
7:09AM ( 1 hour ago )