INTRODUCTION: A half a million chanting Ethiopians filled Addis Ababa's Revolution Square on Thursday (14 April).
INTRODUCTION: A half a million chanting Ethiopians filled Addis Ababa's Revolution Square on Thursday (14 April). They were protesting against the alleged presence of Sudanese troops on their soil to boost the open support Sudan has been giving secessionist guerrillas fighting government troops in Ethiopia's northern province of Eritrea. After hearing head of state Lieutenant Colonel Mengistu Haile-Mariam accuse Sudan and Egypt of aggression, groups of protestors marched on the Sudanese and Egyptian embassies.
SYNOPSIS: From all directions, people poured in to fill the square. Officials later claimed it was the largest rally in Ethiopian history. This was a public expression to back the government's allegations that Sudan had just sent troops deep into Ethiopian territory and that these troops were already fighting Ethiopian units.
Colonel Mariam, chairman of the provisional military council, urged his countrymen to arm themselves to safeguard Ethiopia's honour and integrity.
An effigy of Sudanese President Jaafar Nimeiry was paraded to show the people the man their leaders regarded as their enemy. The rally came only two days after Ethiopia had formally protested to the Organisation of African Unity in Addis Ababa.
Colonel Mariam dramatically smashed to the ground six bottles of a red liquid to symbolise the spilled blood of Ethiopia's enemies. He claimed that Egypt's President Sadat was linked with Sudan in a unified political command against the Ethiopian people.
The crowds were said to have shouted repeated pledges to protect their homeland and urged to be armed and mobilised into battle.
Then, with surprising order, considering their huge numbers sections of the crowd began their march towards the Sudanese Embassy.
Some of the marchers carried firearms that the government had hurriedly issued them. A greater number had more primitive weapons -- staves, swords machetes and stones -- which they brandished vigorously. Approaching as closely as possible, they echoed Colonel Mariam's fierce condemnation of Sudan and her leader.
Then the human tide flowed along city streets to the Egyptian embassy where an accusing chorus arose once more with red smears on machete blades bringing an extra touch of menace. Some of their placards and shouted slogans also attacked other Arab regimes, the United States and the C.I.A. After their sustained show of anger at the heavily-guarded embassies the crowd was to move to hand over a message of protest at the headquarters of the Organisation of African Unity.