Ethiopian pro-government protesters condemned Washington on Sunday for imposing restrictions on aid over the Tigray conflict, at a massive rally organised by the authorities to show support for their stances.
Over 10,000 people attended the rally, some brandishing banners written in Amharic, English and Arabic. Slogans included: “USA show us your neutrality”, “Ethiopia doesn’t need a caretaker”, and “Fill the dam”, a reference to a huge Nile dam opposed by Egypt and Sudan.
The protest was larger than typical pro-government rallies, and the public criticism of Washington was rare.
Ethiopia is facing growing international pressure over the conflict in Tigray, where it and neighboring Eritrea sent forces last year to oust the regional authorities.
A week ago, Washington imposed restrictions on security and economic assistance to Ethiopia over the conflict. The United States also announced that it would bar current or former Ethiopian or Eritrean officials it deems responsible for the crisis.
The filling of the $4 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has also sparked international disputes. Ethiopia says the dam’s electricity is needed to develop its economy; Egypt and Sudan say the dam breaches their rights to Nile waters down river.
“We will never kneel down. The preconditions and travel restrictions by the U.S. and its allies are completely unacceptable. It needs to be corrected,” Adanech Abebe, mayor of Addis Ababa, told the rally organised by the Ministry of Youth.