Ethiopian Gov’t Rallies Protesters against Tigrayan Militants
By Staff, Agencies
Tens of thousands of Ethiopians have pledged to defend the capital from advancing militants during a pro-military rally where attendees dismissed diplomatic efforts to end the year-long war.
The rally in central Addis Ababa on Sunday was the government’s latest attempt to shore up public support for the conflict against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front [TPLF] and allied groups.
It came five days after the government declared a nationwide state of emergency ostensibly to protect civilians from the TPLF, which has claimed key gains in recent days while floating a possible march on the capital.
United States official Jeffrey Feltman arrived in Ethiopia on Thursday to try to broker an end to the hostilities.
The US embassy announced on Saturday it was ordering the departure of non-emergency staff, days after countries including Saudi Arabia, Norway, Sweden and Denmark urged their citizens to leave Ethiopia.
The protests on Sunday, organised by the government, were also directed against countries who have called for an end to the violence.
“We don’t need interference from abroad,” read some of the placards.
Rally-goers also held signs blasting Western media for broadcasting “fake news” overstating militant gains.
Other signs urged the US, one of the harshest international critics of the war, to “stop sucking our blood”.
Addis Ababa mayor Adanech Abebe said in a speech that Ethiopia’s foes were trying to “terrorize our population”.
“They say Addis Ababa is surrounded, but Addis Ababa is only surrounded by its incredible people, by its vigilant, heroic children,” she said.
She was particularly critical of the US government, which last week announced plans to boot Ethiopia out of a vital trade pact because of rights abuses related to the war.
“If aid and loans will strip us of our freedom, if they will lead us to sacrifice our freedom, we won’t sacrifice our freedom,” Adanech said, adding that the TPLF’s rightful place “is in hell”.