By Hannatu Sadiq
Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed has urged all citizens nationwide to join the army to fight the rebels in the northern region of Tigray.
“Now is the right time for all capable Ethiopians who are of age to join the Defence Forces, Special Forces and militias and show your patriotism,” a statement from his office said.
Fighting has escalated since June when the rebels, made up of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and its allies, recaptured much of Tigray in an offensive.
The federal army had withdrawn and declared a unilateral humanitarian ceasefire few weeks ago.
Last week, the rebels’ commander told the BBC that his fighters’ incursion into the neighbouring regions was aimed at removing a federal blockade that has prevented aid from coming through.
But the prime minister’s statement accused the rebels of stopping aid and not allowing farmers to plant crops.
Mr Abiy – a Nobel Peace Prize winner – said the whole country had to get behind the battle to defeat the TPLF.
“The media, artists and social activists are expected to contribute towards strengthening the people’s support for the country,” the prime minister’s statement said.
“Every Ethiopian must work closely with the security forces in being the eyes and ears of the country in order to track down and expose spies and agents of the terrorist TPLF,” it added.
Although TPLF says it is the legitimate regional government of Tigray, the group has been designated a terrorist organization by the government.