Double Olympic gold medallist Haile Gebrselassie has said that has joined the Ethiopian military to fight an insurgency that threatens the capital, Addis Ababa.
Gebrselassie, who set 27 long-distance running records, said he was joining up late on Wednesday.
International alarm has grown over the escalating war in Ethiopia as Tigrayan rebels edge closer to Addis Ababa. “Right now, I am concerned about my country and want to fight for our troops who have done a good job in defending our borders,” he said. Switzerland and Britain advised their citizens to leave Ethiopia, citing the worsening security situation. France and the US have already called on citizens to leave.
Britain’s minister for Africa, Vicky Ford, said the conflict was deteriorating quickly. “In the coming days we may see the fighting move closer to Addis Ababa, which could severely limit options for British nationals to leave Ethiopia,” she said.
The country’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has gone to direct the war from the frontlines, state-affiliated media reported. His government has described the conflict as an “existential war”.
While Abiy is away, the deputy prime minister, Demeke Mekonnen Hassen, will take charge of routine government business, the government spokesperson Legesse Tulu told a news conference, according to a report from the Fana news outlet.