Nine anti-government factions are forming an alliance to push for a political transition in Ethiopia, two of the groups say, piling more pressure on Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as rebel forces advance towards the capital.
Several of the factions have armed fighters although it was not clear whether they all do.
The alliance includes political, military and diplomatic co-operation and expands an existing agreement between forces from the northern region of Tigray and the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), one of the organisers, Yohanees Abraha, told Reuters.
The pact will be signed in the United States capital on Friday.
Called the United Front of Ethiopian Federalist and Confederalist Forces, the alliance includes the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which has been fighting Abiy’s government for a year in a war that has killed thousands of people and forced more than two million more from their homes.
The front is joining hands in an on-the-ground effort to stop Ethiopia’s further disintegration, Yohanees, who is a TPLF member, told Reuters.
“We are considering establishing a transitional arrangement and we have agreed that the regime in power at this time must go as soon as possible,” he said.
He added the nascent alliance was not in touch with the Ethiopian government but planned to begin liaising with foreign governments and bodies.
Abiy’s spokeswoman Billene Seyoum, asked for reaction to the formation of the alliance, referred Reuters to a comment she posted on Twitter in which she defended Abiy’s rule since he took office in 2018.
She said in the post the opening of political space after Abiy took office provided ample opportunity for the opposition to settle differences at the ballot box.
Abiy’s party was re-elected in June.
She did not refer directly to the new alliance.
Spokespeople for the government and foreign ministry did not respond to requests for comment on the alliance.
TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda also did not respond on Friday.
Other groups signing on Friday include the Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front, Agaw Democratic Movement, Benishangul People’s Liberation Movement, Gambella Peoples Liberation Army, Global Kimant People Right and Justice Movement/Kimant Democratic Party, Sidama National Liberation Front and Somali State Resistance, according to organisers.
Prior to the new alliance announcement, the OLA had already joined with the Tigrayan forces.
The two groups confirmed to Reuters they are in the town of Kemise in Amhara state, 325km from the capital.
On Thursday the government accused the Tigrayan forces of exaggerating their territorial gains.
The TPLF had said on Tuesday its forces were closing in on the town of Mille, which would enable them to cut off the highway linking neighbouring Djibouti to Addis Ababa.
The conflict started a year ago when forces loyal to the TPLF, including some soldiers, seized military bases in Tigray.
In response, Abiy sent more troops to the northern region.
The TPLF had dominated Ethiopian politics for nearly three decades but lost much influence when Abiy took office in 2018.
The TPLF accused him of centralising power at the expense of regional states, something Abiy denies.