Ethiopia’s capital saw a large rally on Sunday in support of the national defense forces and condemning the Tigray rebels in the country’s north.
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 fighters 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.
On June 29, Ethiopia’s government declared a unilateral cease-fire, reportedly to offer farmers in Tigray the chance to a chance to harvest their lands, and withdrew its forces from Tigray. Rejecting the cease-fire, the TPLF encroached into lands in the neighboring regional states of Amhara and Afar.
Last week after visiting Ethiopia, Samantha Power, the head of the USAID, urged the TPLF to immediately withdraw its fighters from the lands it made forceful incursions into, a call echoed by the US State Department, but the group rejected the call.