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Citizens gather behind a placard showing Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed at a rally organized by local authorities to show support for the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF), at Meskel square in downtown Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021. (Photo/AP)

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed says he will lead his country’s army “from the battlefront” beginning Tuesday, a dramatic new step in a devastating yearlong war.

Citizens gather behind a placard showing Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed at a rally organized by local authorities to show support for the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF), at Meskel square in downtown Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021. (Photo/AP)
Citizens gather behind a placard showing Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed at a rally organized by local authorities to show support for the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF), at Meskel square in downtown Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021.(Photo/AP)

Citizens gather behind a placard showing Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed at a rally organized by local authorities to show support for the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF), at Meskel square in downtown Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021. (Photo/AP)

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed says he will lead his country’s army “from the battlefront” beginning Tuesday, a dramatic new step in a devastating yearlong war.

“This is a time when leading a country with martyrdom is needed,” Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said in a statement posted on social media Monday night. With rival Tigray forces moving closer to the capital of Addis Ababa, his government declared a state of emergency earlier this month.

An estimated tens of thousands of people have been killed in the war between Ethiopian and allied forces and fighters from the country’s northern Tigray region, who long dominated the national government before Abiy took office. The United States and others have warned that Africa’s second-most populous country could fracture and destabilize the Horn of Africa.

The statement by the prime minister, a former soldier, did not say where exactly he will go Tuesday. His spokeswoman, Billene Seyoum, did not respond to a request for comment.

“Let’s meet at the battlefront,” the 45-year-old prime minister said.

The prime minister's statement also claimed that the West is trying to defeat Ethiopia, the latest pushback against what his government has described as meddling by the international community. Envoys from the African Union and the U.S. have continued diplomatic efforts in pursuit of a ceasefire to the fighting and talks without preconditions on a political solution.

Shortly after Abiy's announcement, a senior State Department official told reporters the U.S. still believes “a small window of opportunity exists" in the mediation efforts.

The prime minister chaired an executive meeting Monday of the ruling Prosperity Party, and Defense Minister Abraham Belay told state media that “all security forces will start taking special measures and tactics as of tomorrow." He declined to elaborate.

The prime minister in his 2019 Nobel acceptance speech spoke passionately about war: “I crawled my way to peace through the dusty trenches of war years ago. ... I witnessed firsthand the ugliness of war in frontline battles. ... War is the epitome of hell for all involved. I know because I have been there and back.”

Abiy was awarded the Nobel for making peace with neighboring Eritrea, on whose border he fought while stationed in the Tigray region.

Source: AP

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