Thousands rally in support of Ethiopia's government

Published : November 08, 2021 16:31 IST

Thousands of people gathered in Addis Ababa to support government troops. Photo: picture alliance/AP

Many of the pro-government demonstrators criticized the U.S. move to remove Ethiopia from a trade pact earlier this week.

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on November 7 in a show of support for the Ethiopian government and armed forces. The rally comes a few days after the government declared a state of emergency earlier this week amid gains claimed by Tigrayan forces advancing toward the capital.

Protesters also spoke out against trade sanctions imposed by the U.S. in response to what Washington called "gross violations" of human rights in the spiraling conflict. Local media reported that protesters massed in Meskel Square in the center of the capital city, with some draped in national flags and others holding posters reading: "We don't need interference from abroad."

"Shame on you USA," read one demonstrator's poster, while another said the U.S. should stop "sucking Ethiopia's blood." Other demonstrators rejected calls for the government and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) to begin talks. Similar demonstrations are also reported to have taken place in other cities around the country.

Government under pressure

Ethiopian forces have been locked in a protracted conflict with the TPLF for over a year. On November 5, the TPLF linked up with opposition groups to form an alliance looking to unseat Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Abiy has called on the people of Ethiopia to take up arms against the TPLF and will be allowing those of military age to be conscripted. The conflict has led to a humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region. Over 7 million people, including 5 million in Tigray, are in need of humanitarian assistance, according to U.N. figures.

Tigrayan fighters say they don't want 'bloodbath'

The TPLF on November 7 rejected claims there would be a bloodbath if they entered Addis Ababa. The organization's spokesman, Getachew Reda, told the AFP news agency that the capital is "a melting pot" home to "people with all kinds of interests."

"The claim that Addis Ababa will turn into a bloodbath if we enter is absolutely ridiculous," the spokesman said. Getachew said the group's primary goal was to overthrow Ethiopia's leadership, and seizing the capital was not an objective. Tigrayan fighters have managed to take control of two strategic cities a few months after retaking the regional capital of Mekele in June.

kb/wmr (AFP,dpa, Reuters)