By Spy Uganda Correspondent
Ethiopia’s military is calling on veterans to rejoin the army as two aligned rebel groups threaten the capital, marking the latest sign the government is marshaling its power to defend Addis Ababa.
It comes as a new state of emergency that allows broad powers of arrest and conscription for Ethiopians over the age of 18. The moves contrast with the government’s public statements that coverage of the conflict — that has left thousands dead and displaced more than 2 million — is “alarmist.”
Ethiopia’s Defense Force’s call for volunteers is aimed at military veterans aged under the age of 55, officers no older than 60, and commanding officers under 64, who will take a “stand against the rebel advance,” according to a statement on the military’s official Facebook page.
State media echoed the official military appeal on Friday, calling on former military members in good physical and mental health to report locally to return to duty.
The return to arms is voluntary and involves a two-week registration period, it said.
The military’s call comes after nine groups opposing the government — a broad coalition of armed groups and political actors representing different regional and ethnic interests — formed a new alliance on Friday “in response to the scores of crises facing the country” and to fight against the “genocidal regime of Ethiopia,” according to a statement issued by organizers.
The bloc called the United Front of Ethiopian Federalist and Confederalist Forces said that it no longer recognized Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government as legitimate and would seek to establish transitional arrangements, striving toward a democratic future.
The alliance includes fighters loyal to Tigray’s former ruling party that once dominated the country, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) — known as the Tigray Defense Forces (TDF) — who have been battling Ethiopia’s military since Abiy ordered an offensive in the country’s northern region last year.
On Friday, the government called the moves a “publicity stunt” and said several of those included have limited support on the ground in the country.