NAIROBI – A state-affiliated broadcaster on Friday purportedly showed Ethiopia’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning prime minister on the battlefront of the country’s yearlong war against Tigray forces, four days after he announced he would direct the army from there.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, in military uniform, claimed that the war “is being conducted with a high level of success” and referred to locations on the border between the country’s Amhara and Afar regions, which neighbor Tigray.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the war that erupted in November 2020 between Ethiopian forces and the Tigray forces who had long dominated the national government before Abiy took office in 2018. The government declared a state of emergency this month as Tigray fighters moved closer to the capital, Addis Ababa, and the United States and others have told their citizens to leave immediately.
Foreign media have been barred from Tigray for much of the war, with communications links severed.
Late Thursday, Ethiopia’s government issued an order seeking to restrict media reporting of the war, forbidding the sharing of non-official information on “military-related movements, battlefront results and situations.”
The statement, which applies to everyone in the country, also warns that “supporting the (rival Tigray forces) directly or indirectly in the name of freedom speech should cease immediately.” And it strongly warned against calls for the formation of a transitional government.
Security forces will “take measures” against violators, it said, but didn't elaborate.
Abiy was awarded the Nobel in 2019 after announcing sweeping political reforms to the repressive government and restoring relations with neighboring Eritrea after years of conflict. His government has since allowed Eritrean soldiers to enter Tigray and fight alongside Ethiopian ones.