Ethiopia’s government has asked the United States to stop spreading falsehoods against the country, the state minister of communication said recently, after the U.S. State Department issued an alert about potential “terrorist attacks”.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and rebellious forces from the Tigray region in the north have been fighting for more than a year, in a conflict that has killed thousands and displaced millions in Africa’s second most populous nation.
This week the Irish government said Ethiopia had expelled four of six Irish diplomats because of Ireland’s stance on the conflict. Ethiopian government spokespeople have also warned against unnamed external threats and criticised Western governments for what they say is inaccurate coverage of the war.
Kebede Dessisa, the state minister, said the US government should refrain from disseminating “shameful fake news and defamation regarding Ethiopia,” state broadcaster EBC reported.
He referred to a US embassy statement recently that urged its citizens to maintain a high level of vigilance due to “the ongoing possibility of terrorist attacks in Ethiopia.”
Earlier this month, tens of thousands of Ethiopians rallied in the capital to denounce the United States for alleged interference in Ethiopia’s internal affairs.
Last week, dozens of protesters took their anger to the US embassy in the city, where they displayed banners saying “Interference is Undemocratic” and “Truth Wins”.
Asked for comment, a US embassy official said the safety of US citizens abroad is one of the State Department’s highest priorities, adding Washington continued to urge US citizens in Ethiopia to depart using commercially available flights.
State-run Ethiopian Press Agency said a protest also took place outside the UK embassy. It was not immediately possible to reach the UK government for comment. Britain has asked its nationals to leave Ethiopia immediately.
More than 400,000 people are facing famine in Tigray, the United Nations has said for months. The Ethiopian government said secondary schools will be closed across the country to help support the ongoing national call amid military operations against the rebel forces.
The Ethiopian Ministry of Education announced this on Thursday, state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate (FBC) reported.
Government said all secondary schools will be closed for one-week to help in harvesting plantations of those who are on the frontline in the fight against the rebel fighters. The latest move came as the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) supported by regional allies and the popular movement intensified its military operations against the rebel Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
Over the past few days, the ENDF jointly with regional forces and militia fighters has claimed control of strategic cities and towns across Amhara and Afar regions, bordering the Tigray region.
Last week, Ahmed had called on “all patriotic Ethiopians” to join him in frontline combat against forces loyal to the TPLF.
“The time necessitates leading the nation through martyrdom. To this end, I will march to the battlefield from tomorrow onwards to lead our defense forces,” Ahmed had said in his call to the nation.
The conflict, which erupted on Nov. 4 last year in Ethiopia’s northernmost Tigray region between TPLF, which used to rule the Tigray region, and the federal government, has over the past months spread across neighbouring Amhara and Afar regions.
Last month, the Ethiopian House of People’s Representatives ratified a six-month state of emergency rule to contain the rebel group’s advancement and to ensure the country’s peace and security. — Reuters