Tens of thousands of people gather in Ethiopia to support the government’s campaign against rebels and denounce the United States

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

Some protesters denounced the US government, which is among foreign powers calling for a ceasefire as a year-long war that killed thousands escalated in between rebel advances last weekend.

The United States, the UN Security Council, the African Union, Kenya and Uganda have recently called for a ceasefire.

The Abiy government has pledged to keep fighting. On Friday, the government said it had a responsibility to protect the country and urged its international partners to resist Ethiopiademocracy.

Some of those gathered in Meskel Square in the center of Addis Ababa have wrapped themselves in the national flag. Many chosen by the United States for criticism.

US President Joe Biden’s administration on Tuesday accused Ethiopia of “grave violations” of human rights and said it wanted to remove the country from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade deal.

“Shame on USA”, read a poster of one protester, while another said that the United States should stop “sucking the blood of Ethiopia”.

Other protesters expressed anger at the U.S. appeal to the government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) to start the interviews.

The conflict in the north of the country began a year ago when forces loyal to the TPLF seized military bases in the Tigray region. In response, Abiy sent troops, which initially kicked the TPLF out of the regional capital, but have faced a sharp reversal since June this year.

“Why doesn’t the US government negotiate with terrorists like al Shabaab?” Tigist Lemma, 37, said of a militant group linked to al-Qaeda in Somalia.

“They want to destroy our country as they did with Afghanistan. They will never succeed, we are Ethiopians “.

Speaking at the rally, Addis Ababa Mayor Adanech Abiebe invoked Ethiopia’s history of resistance to colonial power to justify the war.

The conflict killed thousands, forced more than 2 million from their homes and left 400,000 people in Tigray to face famine.

‘No youth’ on the front line

During the demonstration, there was a call for restraint, by the famous musician Tariku Gankisi, whose songs call for the unity of all Ethiopians.

“Don’t let the young people go to the front lines to fight, let the elders go keeping the grass fresh and asking for reconciliation,” Tariku told the crowd, before his microphone was turned off, it was not clear by whom. Fresh grass is a symbol of peace in the country.

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

Reuters was unable to independently confirm the size of the TPLF advance. The TPLF and their allies told Reuters last week that they are 325 km (200 miles) from the capital. The government accuses the group of exaggerating its earnings.

The government also complained about foreign media coverage of the conflict and some people at the demonstration displayed signs exposing “fake news” in Ethiopia.

Billene Seyoum, Abiy’s spokesperson, said in a Twitter post Saturday: “The orchestrated media propaganda against Ethiopia is on the rise … Even though all Ethiopia will overtake!”

(REUTERS)

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