Ethiopia - Rallies Denounce 'Western Intervention' Over Tigray

Soldiers watch as protesters chant in an Addis Ababa stadium, May 30, 2021.

Authorities called for the massive rally after the United States imposed restrictions on aid over the northern Tigray conflict. Protesters also voiced support for the controversial Nile dam.

Thousands of Ethiopians on Sunday gathered in their capital, Addis Ababa, to protest international pressure on the government over the conflict in Tigray.

Last week, the United States introduced restrictions on economic and security assistance to Ethiopia to press for the resolution of the crisis.

Demonstrators packed a stadium for the pro-government rally, criticizing the US and denouncing "Western intervention."

Protesters also waved banners supporting the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), calling for the mega-project on the Blue Nile to be filled.

Government-organized rallies

The Ministry of Women, Children and Youth organized the rallies in Addis Ababa, and around the country, under the banner "Our voice for freedom and sovereignty."

"We will not submit," Adanech Abiebe, the mayor of Addis Ababa, told the thousands in attendance.

"The US and its allies have to stop and consider the wisdom, as well as correct the preconditions, they have imposed on our internal affairs."

Officials had earlier said they expected more than one million to attend nationwide, with at least 100,000 in Addis Ababa alone.

Turnout figures were not immediately available.

Ethiopia under pressure

Ethiopians hold banners denouncing US sanctions and supporting the Nile dam, May 30, 2021.

Ethiopia has come under increasing international pressure over the conflict in Tigray.

The US restrictions also include barring current or former Ethiopian or Eritrean officials and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) members that Washington deems responsible for the crisis.

The Ethiopian government called the US action "misguided" and "regrettable."

The country has also sparked international disputes over the filling of the (GERD).

Ethiopia says the dam's electricity is needed to develop its economy, while Sudan and Egypt say it violates their rights to Nile waters downriver.

Ethiopia has said it will push ahead with a second phase of filling in July and August, even if no agreement has been reached with Sudan and Egypt.

Crisis continues in Tigray

In November, Ethiopia accused former leaders of the TPLF of ordering an attack on an Ethiopian army base in the region.

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops who quickly ousted the TPLF from major cities and towns.

Ahmed had vowed the conflict would be brief. However, guerrilla fighting is still reported across Tigray, with at least 2 million people displaced by the war as well reports of other atrocities.

Eritrean troops, who teamed up with the Ethiopian military, have also been implicated in multiple massacres during the Tigray conflict.

Both the nations have announced the withdrawal of troops, which is yet to take effect.

(AFP, AP, Reuters)

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