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US orders diplomats out of Ethiopia as rebels approach capital


Conflict in Ethiopia

The US said on Saturday it had ordered all of its non-essential diplomats and their families to leave Ethiopia, as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed urged people to make sacrifices to fend off rebels threatening to advance on the capital.

Nine rebel groups said on Friday they would join forces in an alliance built around the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which has been locked in a year-long war that has killed thousands and pushed many more into famine-like conditions.

The US State Department said it had “ordered the departure of non-emergency US government employees and their family members” on Friday, and it was also urging all other US nationals to leave.

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TPLF representative Berhane Gebre-Christos said on Friday the alliance was aiming to “remove the regime” as he signed the nine-party agreement in Washington.

“We have seen the tests and obstacles and it made us stronger,” he said.

– ‘Existential war’ –

It said on Wednesday it had reached the town of Kemissie in Amhara, 325 kilometres (200 miles) northeast of the capital.

The Ethiopian government, which on Tuesday declared a nationwide emergency, has denied any major rebel advance or threat on the capital, vowing to press on to victory in “an existential war”.

“This information warfare and this propaganda that they have been propagating is giving a false sense of insecurity,” she added.

Abiy declared a victory in the conflict shortly after sending in the troops.

– Twitter disables ‘trends’ –

Twitter announced on Saturday that it had temporarily disabled its “trends” section — which groups the most viral tweets on a subject — for Ethiopia.

Facebook’s parent company Meta said Wednesday that it had deleted a post by Abiy that called for Ethiopians to “bury” the rebels.

The authorities say they are only targeting TPLF supporters.

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