Thousands of Ethiopians rally at White House in support of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali, urge President Biden to stop supporting ‘TPLF terrorists’

Thousands of Ethiopians rallied at the White House in Washington D.C. on Monday in support of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali, and against the Biden administration’s stance in the ongoing conflict in Tigray, a day after a similar rally held in Addis Ababa with tens of thousands of people in attendance.

The demonstrators in Washington, like those in Addis a day earlier, accused the United States of supporting the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and their allies who are said to be advancing toward the capital of Ethiopia in an attempt to seize power from Abiy.

Ethiopians rally at the White House in Washington DC, on November 8, 2021, in support of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali in the ongoing conflict in Tigray. Photo: TODAY NEWS AFRICA/Simon Ateba 
Ethiopians rally at the White House in Washington DC, on November 8, 2021, in support of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali in the ongoing conflict in Tigray. Photo: TODAY NEWS AFRICA/Simon Ateba

Berhnu Endegena, a 60-year old Ethiopian demonstrator sat by the White House’s fence with a placard that read, “We stand with our government in its effort for political reform!”

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Berhnu Endegena sits by the White House’s fence in Washington DC on November 8, 2021at a rally in support of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali. Photo: Today News Africa/Simon Ateba

He told Today News Africa‘s Simon Ateba that he came to the White House to let the Biden administration know that Ethiopians are behind their Prime Minister and against the TPLF.

Ethiopians rally at the White House in Washington DC, on November 8, 2021, in support of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali in the ongoing conflict in Tigray. Photo: TODAY NEWS AFRICA/Simon Ateba 
Ethiopians rally at the White House in Washington DC, on November 8, 2021, in support of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali in the ongoing conflict in Tigray. Photo: TODAY NEWS AFRICA/Simon Ateba

Riyot Zeleke, a 39-year old demonstrator said the Biden administration is on the wrong side of history in Ethiopia and that he came to the White House to protest against the administration’s stance toward the war in Tigray. He said the Biden administration should stand with the people of Ethiopia and not the rebels.

Other demonstrators’ placards read, “TPLF is terrorist. USA take your hands off from Ethiopia. CNN. fake news. Long Live Ethiopia. Heartbroken Democrat. No More.”

Other big banners read, “CNN stop false reporting on Ethiopia. Ethiopians defeated colonialists, will overcome neo-colonialism too!”

Those messages were similar to those demonstrators displayed in Addis Ababa on Sunday when tens of thousands of Ethiopians took to the street in support of Abiy.

In that protest, one demonstrator’s placard read, “Shame on you USA,” while another called on the United States to stop “sucking Ethiopia’s blood.” Many demonstrators said the United States was interfering in their domestic affairs and backing the “TPLF terrorists.” The demonstrators also denounced western media for taking side with the rebels, accusing CNN, BBC, Reuters and others of being “fake news.”

The United States, the United Nations, the African Union and others, including Kenya and Uganda, have recently called on all parties to lay down their weapons and negotiate, asserting that war would not end the conflict. The United States has also said it was against any TPLF advance toward the Ethiopian capital, warning that a civil war in Africa’s second most populous nation would be devastating and last many years.

Ethiopians rally at the White House in Washington DC, on November 8, 2021, in support of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali in the ongoing conflict in Tigray. Photo: TODAY NEWS AFRICA/Simon Ateba 
Ethiopians rally at the White House in Washington DC, on November 8, 2021, in support of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali in the ongoing conflict in Tigray. Photo: TODAY NEWS AFRICA/Simon Ateba

But the government of Abiy vowed to keep fighting last week, saying on Friday that it had a responsibility to secure Ethiopia, and that now is the time for the International community to stand with the country and not rebel forces from the north.

TPLF has been designated a terrorist organization by the Ethiopian government, however, the United States sees the organization as a necessary player to ending the current crisis.

As the conflict has continued to worsen, displacing more than 2 million people, killing thousands more and leaving about 400,000 at an increased risk of famine, the United States has been the most vocal in calling for a peaceful resolution to raging war, and has threatened to impose sanctions to force all sides to negotiate.

Last Tuesday, U.S. President Joseph R. Biden Jr. announced that he is planning to remove Ethiopia from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade agreement, accusing the East African nation of gross human rights violations.

Ethiopians rally at the White House in Washington DC, on November 8, 2021, in support of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali in the ongoing conflict in Tigray. Photo: TODAY NEWS AFRICA/Simon Ateba 
Ethiopians rally at the White House in Washington DC, on November 8, 2021, in support of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali in the ongoing conflict in Tigray. Photo: TODAY NEWS AFRICA/Simon Ateba

Mr. Biden on September 17 authorized the U.S. government to impose sanctions on all those undermining peace in Ethiopia. Those sanctions have not yet been imposed as the Biden administration tries to exhaust all peaceful means.

Other players have also been pushing for negotiations. On Sunday, African Union Special Envoy and former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and the United Nations aid chief Martin Griffiths arrived in Mekelle, the regional capital of Tigray. Their arrival was first reported by Reuters and confirmed by several other sources.

Obasanjo is expected to find bring all sides to the same table to talk. Whether that would happen is difficult to predict.

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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