Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Thousands of Ethiopians rally to support Abiy, condemn America

Tens of thousands of Ethiopians rallied in Addis Ababa on Sunday in support of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government as federal troops fight rebel forces that are threatening to march on the city.

Some protesters denounced the United States, one of the foreign powers that has called for a cease-fire as a years-long war that has killed thousands amid insurgent advances over the past weekend.

The United States, the United Nations Security Council, the African Union and Kenya and Uganda have called for a ceasefire in recent days.

Abi’s government has resolved to continue the fight. On Friday, the government said it had a responsibility to secure the country, and urged its international partners to stand by Ethiopia’s democracy.

Some gathered in Meskell Square in central Addis Ababa wrapped themselves in the national flag. Many chose the United States of America for criticism.

US President Joe Biden’s administration on Tuesday accused Ethiopia of “gross violations” of human rights and said it planned to withdraw the country from the African Development and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade agreement.

One protester’s placard read, “Shame on you USA,” while another said the United States should stop “sucking Ethiopia’s blood.”

Other protesters expressed anger at the US call to initiate talks with the government and the Tigre People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

The conflict in the north of the country began a year earlier when forces loyal to the TPLF captured military bases in the Tigre region. In response, Abiy sent troops, which initially drove the TPLF out of the regional capital Mekele, but suffered a sharp reversal from June of this year.

“Why doesn’t the US government negotiate with terrorists like al-Shabaab?” Tigist Lemma, 37, said, referring to a terrorist group linked to al-Qaeda in Somalia. “They want to destroy our country like they did Afghanistan. They will never succeed, we are Ethiopians.”

Speaking at the rally, Addis Ababa Mayor Adnech Abebe referred to Ethiopia’s history of resisting colonial power to justify war.

The conflict has killed thousands, forced more than 2 million people out of their homes and caused 400,000 famines in the Tigre.

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On Sunday, UN aid chief Martin Griffiths and the AU’s special envoy to the Horn of Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo, landed in Mekele, a humanitarian source in Ethiopia, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.

A spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Ethiopia did not respond to a request for comment, and UN officials in New York were not immediately available. AU spokesman Ebba Kalondo did not respond to a request for comment.

“I can only confirm that they are both here and we are in discussions,” TPLF spokesman Getachev Reda told Reuters.

Government spokesman Legacy Tulu did not respond to a request for comment on the officials’ visit.

‘No youth’ for the front lines

During a rally in Addis Ababa, a call for restraint was invoked from popular musician Tariku Ganakisi, whose songs call for the unity of all Ethiopians.

Tariku told the crowd, “Don’t let any young people go to the front lines to fight, let the elders hold fresh grass and ask for reconciliation,” before the microphone went off, it was unclear by whom. Fresh grass is a symbol of peace in the country.

The state of emergency declared by the government on Tuesday allows it to order civilians of military age to undergo training and accept military duties.

Reuters has not been able to independently confirm the extent of the TPLF advance. The TPLF and their allies told Reuters last week they were 325 km (200 miles) from the capital. The government accuses the group of exaggerating its profits.

The government has also complained about foreign media coverage of the conflict, and some at the rally held signs condemning “fake news” in Ethiopia.

Abiy’s spokesman Billin Seyum said in a Twitter post late Saturday: “Orchestrated media propaganda against Ethiopia is on the rise… Despite this, Ethiopia will get away!”

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This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

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