Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has gone to direct the war effort from the front lines, state-affiliated media reported.
Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen Hassen will take charge of routine government business in Abiy’s absence, Fana news outlet said on Wednesday.
Government spokesman Legesse Tulu detailed the transfer of some routine duties in a news conference, the report from Fana said.
Abiy announced late on Monday he was planning to personally direct the fight against Tigrayan forces and their allies.
“Let’s meet at the war front,” he wrote “The time has come to lead the country with sacrifice.”
Last month Tigrayan forces and their allies threatened to march on the capital Addis Ababa; they have also been fighting fiercely to try to cut a transport corridor linking landlocked Ethiopia with the region’s main port Djibouti.
On Tuesday, US Special Envoy Jeffrey Feltman said the Ethiopian military and regional militias had been able to hold back Tigrayan attempts to cut the corridor but Tigrayan forces had been able to move south towards Addis.
Ethiopia’s military spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.
Tens of thousands of people are estimated to have been killed and hundreds of thousands pushed into famine conditions since November last year when the prime minister ordered a military offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which dominated the central government for decades before Abiy took office in 2018.
The Tigrayan forces have continued to press towards Addis Ababa, claiming control of the town of Shewa Robit, just 220km (136 miles) northeast of the capital by road.
Much of northern Ethiopia is under a communications blackout and access for journalists is restricted, making battlefield claims difficult to corroborate.
SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES