Ethiopia rebels ‘join forces’ against govt.

TPLF, which has joined hands with Oromo rebels, says Addis Ababa could fall within weeks

Nine rebel groups battling Ethiopia’s government will “collaborate and join forces”, they said in a statement on Friday, announcing the alliance, which comes as fears grow of Tigrayan fighters advancing on the capital.

The alliance, due to be signed in Washington later on Friday, includes the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which has been locked in a year-long war against Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government.

The TPLF said on Wednesday that its fighters had reached the town of Kemissie in Amhara region, 325 km northeast of the capital, and were running “joint operations” with the OLA, which predicted Addis Ababa could fall in a matter of weeks.

The nine groups said they were forming a united front “to reverse the harmful effects of the Abiy Ahmed rule on the peoples of Ethiopia… and in recognition of the great need to collaborate and join forces towards a safe transition in the country”.

United Front

It is unclear whether the alliance, named the United Front of Ethiopian Federalist and Confederalist Forces, will affect the trajectory of the conflict, which Mr. Abiy’s government has termed “an existential war”.

The TPLF and the OLA, which the government officially designated as terrorist groups in May, are well-known, but the alliance’s other seven members are obscure, said one diplomat following security matters.

“If they are really serious about taking up arms against the government then it’s potentially a real problem for the government,” the diplomat said. “I don’t know the majority of them, I don’t know how many people they have, what resources they have.” Mr. Abiy’s government has dismissed rebel claims of territorial gains, saying Thursday the TPLF was “encircled” and close to defeat, while also urging Ethiopians to unite and join the fight.

On Friday, the Defence Ministry called on veterans to re-enlist in the armed forces.

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