Ethiopian leader heads to war frontlines as Olympians join army

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has gone to lead the war from the front lines, state-affiliated media reported on Wednesday, as two Olympian athletes announced they were enlisting in the ‘army.

Gold medalist Haile Gebrselassie, who set 27 long distance running records, told Reuters he is committing. The same goes for Olympic silver medalist runner Feyisa Lelisa, local media reported.

“What would you do when the existence of a country is at stake? You just put everything down. Alas, nothing will bind you. I am sorry ! Haile told Reuters https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/ethiopian-olympic-gold-medallist-haile-gebreselassie-join-war-ready-pay-ultimate-2021-11-24.

During Abiy’s absence, Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen Hassen would take over the day-to-day business of the government in his absence, government spokesman Legesse Tulu said at a press conference, according to a report by the government. Fana media.

Abiy announced Monday evening that he plans to personally lead the fight against Tigrayan forces and their allies.

“Let’s meet on the war front,” he wrote. “The time has come to lead the country with sacrifice. “

Last month, Tigrayan forces and their allies threatened to march on the capital Addis Ababa. They also fought fiercely in an attempt to cut a transport corridor connecting landlocked Ethiopia to the region’s main port, Djibouti.

On Tuesday, US Special Envoy Jeffrey Feltman said the Ethiopian army and regional militias had succeeded in curbing Tigrayan attempts to cut the corridor, but Tigray forces were able to move south towards the capital.

The Ethiopian military spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.

Ethiopian police have trained around 147,000 civilians in the capital to form neighborhood defense groups https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/residents-patrol-ethiopian-capital-after-tigrayan-forces-advance- 2021-11-24 and help detect possible infiltrators, police told Reuters.

EXPULTED DIPLOMATES

Feltman, along with former Nigerian president turned African Union envoy Olusegun Obasanjo, attempted to negotiate a ceasefire between the two sides.

On Tuesday, Feltman said nascent progress risked being overshadowed by military developments.

Ethiopia on Wednesday expelled four of the country’s six Irish diplomats over Ireland’s stance on the conflict, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said.

Ireland has been at the forefront of the call for UN Security Council meetings on Ethiopia and has been pushing for council statements on the conflict since joining the body of 15 members in January.

“Ireland has shone the spotlight on events that have taken place in Ethiopia, which are truly violations of international law and which pose serious humanitarian and human rights problems,” he told Irish radio RTE. .

“We have already unfortunately had a lot of deaths and a lot of murders in Ethiopia this year, but it could get worse in the coming weeks … and that is why, unfortunately, the Ethiopian government has decided to target Ireland.”

Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Dina Mufti did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Irish Foreign Office said its embassy would remain open, but had asked its citizens to leave immediately by commercial means, and said those planning to visit should avoid travel.

Also on Wednesday, Switzerland and Britain advised their citizens to leave Ethiopia, citing the worsening security situation. France and the United States have already called on citizens to leave.

(Reporting from the Addis Ababa Newsroom; Additional reporting by Conor Humphries in Dublin; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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