ADDIS ABABA (Dispatches) – Ethiopia’s capital saw a massive rally on Sunday in support of the national defense forces and condemning the Tigray rebels in the country’s north, Anadolu Agency reported.
Thousands of people from the Oromia region and elsewhere rallied at Meskeq Square in the capital Addis Ababa, with farmers on decorated horses marching through the crowd chanting songs.
With the theme, “I will march to save Ethiopia,” demonstrators held up signs with slogans such as “we will safeguard the unity of Ethiopia through sacrifice.”
The second rally in less than a month, Sunday’s gathering came two days after militants of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) entered Lalibella, a historic town featuring 12th century-built monolithic churches – a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Demonstrators also held up posters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, along with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and chanted “Thank you, Erdogan” for his support for stability in Ethiopia.
In an Aug. 1 telephone call with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Erdogan said Turkey places great importance on peace and stability in Ethiopia and will continue to provide all kinds of support.
The TPLF ruled Ethiopia for 27 years at the head of a four-party coalition until 2018, when it was at long last toppled, largely by youths from Oromia and Amhara, the county’s two most populous regions.
Its rule was characterized by repression of dissent, high-profile corruption, and human rights violations.
Last November, TPLF forces raided the Northern Command of Ethiopian National Defense Forces, killing soldiers and looting sizable military hardware. The following day, the Ethiopian government launched a sweeping law enforcement operation against the group’s leaders.
Last week after visiting Ethiopia, Samantha Power, the head of the USAID, failed to make the TPLF immediately withdraw its militants from the lands it made forceful incursions into.
Meanwhile, Sudan recalled its ambassador to neighboring Ethiopia on Sunday, frustrated by the stance of Ethiopian officials whom it said were refusing Sudan’s offer to mediate in the ongoing conflict in Tigray.
“Ethiopia will improve its position if it considered what Sudan could do. ..instead of completely rejecting all of its efforts,” a statement from the foreign ministry read.
Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday about the conflict in the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray, which has led to an influx of 53,400 refugees since late 2020.
Hamdok’s offer came within the framework of his presidency of IGAD, a grouping that includes Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Djibouti, Sudan, Uganda and Somalia, the statement said.