A militant leader in Ethiopia says his group has struck a military alliance with the Tigray forces now pressing toward the country’s capital, as the conflict that erupted in the Tigray region last year spreads into other parts of Africa’s second-most populous country.

Kumsa Diriba (also known as Jaal Marroo), Oromo Liberation Army leader, stated that the only way to overthrow this government militarily and speak the language they wish to hear.

This alliance is another sign of the widening of Tigray conflict. It began in November following a political dispute between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmad and Tigray leaders, who had dominated Ethiopia’s government nearly three decades. Thousands have been killed in the nine-month war that has been marked by widespread allegations by ethnic Tigrayans of gang-rapes, man-made famine and mass expulsions by Ethiopian and allied forces.

According to the OLA leader, the agreement was reached after Tigray forces had proposed it. Diriba stated that they had reached an agreement to cooperate against the enemy, particularly in military cooperation. He said that the agreement was in place. They exchange battlefield information and fight simultaneously, and although they aren’t fighting side-by-side, there is still the possibility of it happening.

He said that talks are ongoing on a political alliance and added that other groups in Ethiopia are participating in similar discussions. “There’s going be a grand coalition (against) Abiy’s”

The alliance includes the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (who had been at the forefront of Ethiopia’s oppressive government, but were marginalized when Abiy was elected in 2018), and the OLA (which last year split from Oromo Liberation Front) and seeks self determination for the Oromo people. Ethiopia’s largest ethnicity is the Oromo.

The government of Ethiopia declared OLA and TPLF terrorist organizations earlier in the year.

Getachew Reda, a Tigray force spokesperson, told the AP that they were working with “yes” people to reach a political agreement. However, he didn’t provide details. He stated that he would work with any person not involved in the Abiy Ahmed-led genocidal campaign.

The spokeswoman for Abiy did not comment.

The OLA leader spoke a day after the prime minister called on all capable Ethiopians to join the military and stop the Tigray forces “once and for all” after they retook much of the Tigray region in recent weeks and crossed into the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions. According to the Tigray Forces spokesperson, they are working to secure the region. However, if Abiy’s government is overthrown, that would be “icing on top”.

It is hard to predict how citizens will respond or whether they will fight to stop the prime minister from allowing them access to Ethiopian parts. In recent weeks, the government supported large-scale military recruitment rallies.

Many Ethiopians were upset by the Tigray leaders’ nearly three decades of power. They created an ethnic federalism system that has led to ethnic tensions in the country of 110 millions people.

Diriba admitted that it took some time to agree to the Tigray forces proposal for an alliance. He said that the TPLF committed so many atrocities against the Oromo people while it was in power and that the problems it caused have never been solved.

He said that the OLA had decided that it was possible to collaborate, but there are still some questions. He said, “I hope that the TPLF has learned a valuable lesson.” He said that he didn’t believe the TPLF would make the same mistakes unless they were out of their minds. If they did, Ethiopia will be in chaos and could fall apart as a country.

It wasn’t clear how many OLA fighters it would bring to the alliance. Its leader stated, “This madam, it is a military secret.”

He expressed hope that the TPLF would soon make its talks with other groups public. The international community, led by the United Nations, and the United States, warned him that Ethiopia must be managed carefully if it wants to remain together.