An anti-government alliance is formed in Ethiopia

Nine anti-government factions in Ethiopia are forming an alliance, two of the groups involved have said - heaping pressure on Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

That's against the backdrop of an advance by forces loyal to the Tigray People's Liberation Front towards the capital.

Footage aired on Tigrayan television has shown TPLF fighters in Dessie and Kombulcha - two towns claimed to have been captured in recent days.

The TPLF - which has been battling the federal military for a year - says it has advanced further, reaching the town of Kemise.

That's 200 miles north of Addis Ababa.

The government accuses the TPLF of exaggerating its territorial gains.

A spokesperson indicated fighting is just south of Kombulcha and also denied a TPLF claim that it is closing in on Mille.

Capturing that town could enable the TPLF to cut off the highway linking Addis Ababa to Ethiopia's coastal neighbor Djibouti.

But another concern for Abiy is the newly announced United Front of Ethiopian Federalist and Confederalist Forces.

It includes the TPLF and its creation was confirmed by two other members - the Oromo Liberation Army and the Agaw Democratic Movement.

Several of the groups have armed fighters, although it was not clear if they all do.

A TPLF spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.

The TPLF dominated Ethiopian politics for nearly three decades before Abiy came to power - and had ruled with increasing authoritarianism.

Abiy's spokesperson, Billene Seyoum, said in a post on Twitter that the "opening up of the political space" since Abiy took office had given "ample opportunity for contenders to settle their differences at the ballot box".

She did not refer directly to the new alliance.

African and Western nations have called for an immediate ceasefire.

U.S. envoy Jeffrey Feltman has met with the chair of the African Union as well as the the Ethiopian defense minister, finance minister and deputy prime minister, according to the State Department - though it was not clear whether he would meet with Abiy during a two-day visit.

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