Abiy Ahmed announced late on Monday that he would personally direct the fight against Tigrayan forces and their allies as they marched towards the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has gone to the battlefront to take charge in a yearlong war and left the daily work of running the country to his deputy as rival fighters approach the capital, Addis Ababa.
The 45-year-old prime minister, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and former soldier, arrived at the front on Tuesday, government spokesman Legesse Tulu told reporters on Wednesday.
He did not provide details on the location, and state media did not show images of him.
Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen is handling day-to-day government activities, Legesse said.
Abiy announced late on Monday he was planning to personally direct the fight against Tigrayan forces and their allies.
"Let's meet at the war front," he wrote "The time has come to lead the country with sacrifice."
On Wednesday hundreds of new army recruits took part in a ceremony held in their honour in the Kolfe district of Addis Ababa.
As officials corralled sheep and oxen into trucks bound for the north, the recruits broke into patriotic songs and chants.
Abiy's move boosts recruitments
"When a leader leaves his chair... and his throne it is to rescue his country. His focus is not to live, but to rescue this country, and I sobbed when he said 'follow me' and went to the front line," 42-year-old driver Tesfaye Sherefa, told AFP news agency
Abiy's officials and state media have not provided details on his movements since he made the announcement to lead the forces from the front.
The recruits in Kolfe nevertheless took his statement to heart, sporting T-shirts emblazoned with a picture of Abiy in uniform and the words "We have a historic responsibility to defend the free name of Ethiopia."
"I feel proud and I stand with him," 25-year-old Esubalew Wale, another recruit, told AFP news agency.
The war in Africa’s second-most populous nation has killed an estimated tens of thousands of people.
Last month Tigrayan forces and their allies threatened to march on the capital Addis Ababa; they have also been fighting fiercely to try to cut a transport corridor linking landlocked Ethiopia with the region's main port Djibouti.
On Tuesday, US Special Envoy Jeffrey Feltman said the Ethiopian military and regional militias had been able to hold back Tigrayan attempts to cut the corridor but Tigrayan forces had been able to move south towards Addis.
Ethiopia's military spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.