Ethiopia’s cabinet announced a state of emergency yesterday after Tigrayan rebels took two key towns in an apparent push towards the capital, according to state-affiliated media.
“The state of emergency is in place to safeguard citizens from terrorist TPLF group crimes in numerous sections of the nation,” Fana Broadcasting Corporate stated, referring to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.
According to Fana, lawmakers are expected to ratify the bill within 24 hours.
The TPLF has seized possession of two strategic cities about 400 kilometres South of Addis Ababa in recent days and has not ruled out moving on the capital, which has seen no fighting so far.
The government has denied TPLF territorial gains, which, if true, would be a major strategic breakthrough.
Much of northern Ethiopia is cut off from the outside world, and journalists have limited access, making combat statements difficult to verify independently.
Residents in Addis Ababa were urged to register their firearms and prepare to protect their neighbourhoods earlier Tuesday.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed dispatched troops into Tigray a year ago to jail and disarm the TPLF, citing attacks on army barracks as the reason for the move.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner for 2019 predicted a quick triumph, but by late June, the rebels had regrouped and reclaimed the majority of Tigray.
They then launched offensives on the neighbouring Afar and Amhara regions.
The escalating conflict has alarmed the international community, with Western countries renewing calls for an immediate ceasefire and the African Union to mediate peace negotiations between the warring groups.
By Fridah Kerubo