As Ethiopia declared a six-month state of emergency this week, the East African country called on its citizens to mobilize and take up arms against rebel forces advancing toward the capital.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed urged citizens to defend themselves against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front after reports that the rebellious forces took control of two key Ethiopian towns, according to Reuters.
Tigray forces, as well as forces with the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), have claimed in recent days to have taken over towns in Amhara along the road to the capital of Addis Ababa.
One of the rebel groups said Wednesday that it had forces roughly 15 miles from the center of the capital, CNN reported, though the declaration couldn’t be confirmed.
OLA spokesman, Odaa Tarbii, tweeted late Wednesday: “Today, 1165 Oromia Special Forces defected to the OLA. 400 of them joined OLA forces in the vicinity of Laga Tafo. Our forces continue pushing on from all directions, we r very close to seeing the end of this oppressive dictatorship.”
Earlier this week, Ethiopia’s Justice Minister Gedion Timothewos told a state media briefing: “Our country is facing a grave danger to its existence, sovereignty and unity. And we can’t dispel this danger through the usual law enforcement systems and procedures,” according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, Jeffrey Feltman, the US envoy to the Horn of Africa, arrived in Addis Ababa Thursday in an attempt to mediate the crisis and begin ceasefire discussions, Reuters reported.
Both African and Western nations have urged an immediate ceasefire in Ethiopia, the news outlet said.
“The fighting must stop!” Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a statement.
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