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Facebook removes post by Ethiopian PM as tensions escalate

Facebook has removed a post by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed urging Ethiopians to “bury” Tigray forces threatening the capital Addis Ababa.

“The obligation to die for Ethiopia belongs to all of us,” Mr Ahmed said in the post, which called on citizens to mobilise “by holding any weapon or capacity”.

The post was taken down on Tuesday morning for violating the platform’s policies against inciting and supporting violence, spokeswoman Emily Cain for Facebook’s parent company, Meta, told The Associated Press.

Mr Ahmed is active on the platform, where he has 3.5 million followers.

The US and others have warned Ethiopia about “dehumanizing rhetoric” after the prime minister in comments in July described the Tigray forces as “cancer” and “weeds”.

Facebook has removed posts from world leaders before, although in rare circumstances. Earlier this year, the company deleted a video from then-US president Donald Trump, which included false claims about election fraud following a deadly skirmish at the US Capitol.

Facebook said the video contributed to “the risk of ongoing violence”.

The platform pulled a live broadcast from Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro last week because it contained false claims about Covid-19 vaccines.

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Ms Cain did not say how Facebook was made aware of the Ethiopia post, which the Nobel Peace Prize-winning prime minister made as Tigray forces took control of key cities over the weekend that put them in a position to move down a major highway towards Addis Ababa.

Mr Ahmed’s government this week declared a national state of emergency with sweeping powers of detention and military conscription.

The prime minister repeated his call to “bury” the Tigray forces in public comments on Wednesday as he and other officials marked one year of war.

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