More than 10,000 are protesting against U.S. economic and security sanctions on Ethiopia over the Tigray conflict.
Ethiopian pro-government protesters have denounced the United States imposing restrictions on aid for the Tigray conflict, in a huge rally organized by the authorities to show support for their positions.
More than 10,000 people attended the rally on Sunday, some carrying banners written in English, Arabic and Amharic. “Ethiopia does not need a goalkeeper,” a banner at Addis Ababa Stadium said, while others denounced the “Western intervention.”
A sign saying “Fill the dam” was also seen, a reference to a huge Nile dam that Egypt and Sudan were opposed to.
“We will never kneel. The preconditions and travel restrictions of the United States and its allies are completely unacceptable. It needs to be corrected, ”said Adanech Abebe, mayor of Addis Ababa, at the rally organized by the youth ministry.
The demonstration was larger than typical pro-government rallies and public criticism in the US was rare.
Ethiopia is facing growing international pressure on the conflict in the northern Tigray region, where she and neighboring Eritrea sent troops last year to overthrow regional authorities.
One week ago, the United States imposed restrictions on economic and security assistance to Ethiopia because of the conflict. Washington also said it would ban current Ethiopian or Eritrean officials from being held responsible for the crisis.
The crisis began in November after Ethiopia accused former Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) leaders of ordering an attack on an Ethiopian army base in the region.
Troops sent by Ethiopian leader Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed quickly overthrew the TPLF in major cities and towns, but fighting is still reported across Tigray.
There have been atrocities such as gang rapes, extrajudicial killings and expulsions part of the violence in Tigray, according to victims, witnesses, local authorities and aid groups. It is estimated that thousands of people died.
More than 2 million people have been displaced by the war.
Interference in “internal affairs”
The government of Abyy denounced U.S. sanctions as “a decision to interfere in our internal affairs” and warned Addis Ababa that it could be forced to review its bilateral relationship with Washington.
Nejash Sheba, a 23-year-old Addis Ababa trader and member of the Abiy Prosperity Party, told Reuters that local officials had been instructed to organize people in his area and that he had brought 100 more people with him at the rally.
“I came here to show my support for the Prosperity Party and denounce the restrictions imposed on Ethiopia by America.”
Filling the $ 4 billion Great prey of the Ethiopian Renaissance it has also provoked international disputes.
Ethiopia says dam electricity is needed to develop its economy; Sudan and Egypt say they are violating their rights in the waters of the Nile River.