Ethiopia government plans to stage massive protests against what it calls foreign interference in Ethiopian affairs
The Ethiopian government says about one million youths are set to stage protests against what the state media calls foreign interference in Ethiopian affairs. The demonstrations, organized by the Ministry of Women & Youth, were dubbed as the ‘voice of freedom’.
The ministry’s director of youth mobilization, Matiyas Asefa, said the purpose of the protests was to send a message to everyone – Ethiopia does not accept foreign interference. He added that the pressure on Ethiopia is unfair.
Ethiopia is grappling with Western pressure over the humanitarian situation in the Tigray region. The US and EU have called for an end to the conflict, unrestricted aid access to interior parts of Tigray, and for an independent investigation into the cases of sexual violence, extrajudicial killings, and massacres, as well as the use of starvation as a weapon. They also demanded the withdrawal of Eritrean and Amhara forces from the Tigray region.
US and EU concerns are not limited to the Tigray region. They want a solution to the Nile Dam dispute and the Ethiopian-Sudan border conflict. The West is also keeping a close eye on Addis Ababa and Asmara.
Ethiopia has agreed to some US and EU demands, such as allowing the UN to participate in the investigation into the abuses and for aid to reach some Tigray areas, but there have been requests like withdrawal of Eritrea and Amhara militias that have been ignored.
The Prosperity Party executive committee said yesterday that Ethiopia would not accept foreign pressure. The party’s statement said Ethiopia had the right to use the Nile river without prejudice. PP’s statement has also mentioned that there are forces that are against the historic agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia and regional stability.
The United States has said it will impose visa bans on some Ethiopian, Eritrean, and TPLF officials, but the decision has not yet been implemented.
Cameron Hudson, a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Africa Centre, said a war crimes conclusion by the US government would go a long way in increasing pressure on Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
“The idea of the US leading a ‘fact-based’ examination of war crimes, as it has done in places like Darfur and Myanmar, suggests an effort to push back on Ethiopia’s official narrative about what started the conflict in Tigray and what is happening there now,” said Mr Hudson.
Mr. Ahmed, a Nobel laureate, has called the military push by his government “a law-enforcement operation”.
“By challenging that official narrative, Washington is putting itself on a collision course with Addis Ababa that is likely to result in efforts to impose a UN arms embargo and possibly an International Criminal Court investigation,” Mr. Hudson said.
The Biden administration has changed its tone on Tigray in recent weeks.
After months of quiet diplomacy and calls for Eritrean troops to withdraw, the US imposed sanctions last week and a presidential statement was made on Wednesday night.
“With President Joe Biden’s statement, the US has now signaled a new approach to Ethiopia, one that not only reflects the lies and crimes being committed in Tigray, but that now calls into question the overall legitimacy of coming elections (on June 21), Abiy’s mandate and the integrity of the Ethiopian state,” Mr. Hudson said.
Mr. Biden called for a ceasefire and the withdrawal of Eritrean forces.
“All parties, in particular the Ethiopian and Eritrean forces, must allow immediate, unimpeded humanitarian access to the region in order to prevent widespread famine,” he said.
Jeffrey Feltman, the US envoy to the Horn of Africa, will be returning to the region on a second trip next week and his itinerary will include stops in Gulf countries including the UAE.
UAE has played an important role and what is critical is they use all the influence that they got to end the conflict.
Tomorrow’s protests are expected to attract more than one million young people to the Ethiopian capital. Similar demonstrations are expected in other main cities across the country.