By Faith Nyasuguta
Ethiopian capital city, Addis Ababa’s residents have been urged to to register their weapons in a bid to protect their neighbourhoods amid fears that rebels could advance on the city.
The plea by officials comes days after the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) announced it had captured two cities about 400km from Addis Ababa.
The Ethiopian government has declared a countrywide state of emergency.
At the same time, the US has called on the rebels not to try and take Addis Ababa, which boasts of a population of over five million.
“We oppose any TPLF move to Addis or any TPLF move to besiege Addis,” Jeffrey Feltman, the US special envoy for the Horn of Africa said.
A year ago, war broke out in the northern Tigray region. Since then, the TPLF has advanced into the neighbouring regions of Amhara and Afar.
Tens of thousands have been killed and over two million have so far fled their homes.
According to the TPLF, it aims at breaking a siege of Tigray, where the UN estimates 400,000 people are living in “famine-like conditions”.
The chair, Addis Ababa’s peace and security bureau has given residents two days to register weapons or to give them to the government or a relative who can use firearms, the state-linked Fana Broadcasting Corporation reported.
There have been international efforts to broker a truce between the state and the rebels who fell out over PM Ahmed Abiy’s political reforms. They have also failed.
Kenea Yadeta added that people should “organise” themselves, and work with the security services to “control” their neighbourhoods, the report said.
In a televised Monday address, Abiy said foreign forces were fighting alongside the TPLF. He ,however, did not give details, even as TPLF denied the accusations.
At the same time, US President Joe Biden said he planned to remove Ethiopia from the list of states that qualify for duty-free access to the US market under the African Growth and Opportunities Act (Agoa).
In a letter to the US Congress, Mr Biden cited “gross violations” of human rights for his decision, which is set to become effective starting January.