The Ethiopian government on Tuesday officially called on civilians to join the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) and its allied regional forces and militias in the fight against Tigrayan rebels.
“Now is the right time for all capable Ethiopians who are of age to join the Defense Forces, Special Forces and militias to show your patriotism,” the Ethiopian government said in a statement issued by the office of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
A direction has been set for the Ethiopian national army, regional special forces and militias to take strong military actions to destroy the “treachery internal and foreign powers” part of the statement reads.
It is not clear which foreign powers the government is referring to.
However, some Ethiopian officials have been accusing western powers of double standards over the Tigray conflict.
On June 29, Addis Ababa officially accused the international community of responding with “dead silence” to belligerence by the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).
“Clear double standards seem to be at play in the silence towards TPLF's harassment and overt belligerence,” the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s spokesperson, Billene Seyoum, said at a press conference.
In today's statement, the Ethiopian government accused the Tigrayan rebel group of “colluding with internal and external enemies” to disintegrate the nation.
The national call comes as TPLF fighters continue to advance further deep in neighbouring Amhara and Afar regions.
Last week, TPLF fighters took control of the town of Lalibela, a major tourist destination town whose famed rock-hewn churches are a United Nations World Heritage Site.
After Lalibela fell to TPLF, the US government called on the Tigrayan fighters to protect cultural heritage of the town.
Conflict in the Ethiopia's northern Tigray region broke out last November after the government accused TPLF of carrying out attacks on a national army base in the region.
The government declared a unilateral ceasefire on June 28 after Tigrayan forces recaptured Mekelle, the regional capital.
The Ethiopian government has repeatedly ruled out dialogue with the group, saying it will not negotiate with a “terrorist group”.
Last week, the Ethiopian government rejected planned efforts by neighbouring Sudan to mediate Tigrayan rebels with the central government saying Khartoum does not have the credibility to do so.
“The relationship with Sudan at this point is a little bit tricky because the level of trust with some leaders has already been eroded, particularly with the Sudanese army’s incursion into Ethiopian territory,” Billene said.
“Trust is the basis of any negotiation, any mediation as well, so that element needs to be thoroughly addressed before Sudan could be entertained as a credible party in terms of facilitating such kind of negotiations,” she added.
According to UN figures, currently some 4 million people in Tigray, Amhara and Afar are facing emergency or crisis levels of food insecurity.