Ethiopian gold medalist and national hero Haile Gebrselassie pledged on Wednesday (24/11) to take part in the fight against insurgent forces in his country, after the prime minister said he had gone to lead the war from the “front line”.
The 48-year-old former champion, who set 27 records in long distance racing, admitted to Reuters that he felt compelled to participate, since the existence of Ethiopia is threatened.
After saying he believed sport was about “peace and love”, he defended his decision to take part in the fight against the “Tigray” insurgents and their allies, who last month threatened to enter the capital, Addis Ababa.
“What would you do when the existence of a country is at stake? You just put them down. Alas, nothing will bind you. I am sorry!” said the great African athlete.
The clashes have been going on for about a year and have killed thousands of people, forcing more than 2 million to flee their homes and leaving 400,000 people in Tigray starving.
It escalated sharply after insurgents threatened to march on the capital, leading to international efforts to calm the situation after the ceasefire was violated.
On Wednesday (24/11) state media reported that Prime Minister Abig Ahmed had gone to lead the war from the “front line”. Gebrselassie described the conflict as a battle in which the threat to Ethiopia was a threat to all of Africa.
“Ethiopia is a country that has contributed a lot to Africa and the whole continent,” he said. “Yes, it is an exemplary country. Kneeling in Ethiopia is like indirectly kneeling the rest. This is impossible.”
In an interview in his office in the capital, where he runs more than a dozen companies dealing with hospitality, real estate, agriculture and education, Gebreselassie referred to the role he was prepared to play in the war.
“Wait until I say death?” “Yes, that’s the ultimate price in a war,” he said. “There is no way I can sit here for fear because he will come to my door. He will come to my house. We will not know when it will come. We will not know who will do what “.