Ethiopia’s former PM warns of war as rebels launch insurgency

Addis Ababa Ethiopian’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning leader says he’ll lead troops on front lines against rebels Mengistu Haile Mariam, Ethiopia’s former prime minister who won the 1990 peace prize, said his political movement would fight rebels to the ‘last drop of blood’ Mengistu Haile Mariam was ousted in 1991 but returned to power last year. Photograph: Matthew Wordsworth/Corbis via Getty Images

Ethiopia’s former prime minister and Nobel peace prize winner, Mengistu Haile Mariam, has told his followers he would lead the country’s military on the battlefield against rebels.

The former leader says Ethiopia’s peace and security is at stake. He has vowed to “build a new Ethiopia” that is free of rebels, accusing them of attacking civilians, harassing judges and torturing opponents.

Mengistu, 87, came to power in 1974 and ruled until the ousting of the government in 1991.

He returned to power in 2017.

The government denies the rebels have a cause, arguing their demands are unjustified, and has used social media to denounce the “media campaigns” they say are being organised by foreign countries such as the United States and China.

Ethiopia was once a US ally but relations have soured following accusations the government has ignored criticism and human rights abuses.

Ethiopia is fighting insurgencies on multiple fronts including the Ogaden National Liberation Front in the east and the Oromo Liberation Front in the south, where a last-ditch crackdown has been criticised by rights groups.

More than 2 million people have fled internal fighting.

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