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Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed has boasted that his government could easily recruit one million new fighters but wants to foster a period of ‘silence’ in the country’s war-hit Tigray region.
The 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner’s remarks are coming barely one week after Tigray’s capital Mekele fell to the Tigray Defence Forces (TDF) rebel group with Abiy’s government declaring a unilateral ceasefire in the eight-month-old conflict.
The TDF has described its seizure of Mekele and most of the rest of the northern region of Tigray as a major victory, while Abiy and other officials have countered that federal forces executed a strategic pullback to focus on other threats.
‘In one, two or three weeks, 100,000 trained, armed and organised special forces can be mobilised,‘ Abiy told lawmakers.
‘If said special force isn’t enough, if a militia is needed, in one or two months half a million militiamen can be organised. One million youths can be mobilised and trained.’
But Abiy also said officials had ‘decided there should be a period of silence for everyone to think’.
Africa Daily News, New York gathered that Tigrayan leaders on Sunday issued their first formal response to Abiy’s ceasefire call, saying they would only accept it if forces from Eritrea and Ethiopia’s Amhara region — who have been backing the Ethiopian army — also withdrew from the region.
Thousands of people have been killed in the conflict and many hundreds of thousands face hunger in Tigray, an important economic and industrial region in the Horn of Africa nation.
According to the United Nations, over 400,000 people have already “crossed the threshold into famine” in Tigray and 1.8 million people are on the brink.
Electricity and communications have been cut, flights suspended and two bridges crucial for aid deliveries have been destroyed.
Last week the TDF paraded what it said were thousands of captive Ethiopian soldiers through the streets of Mekele.
AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK