A massive rally was staged in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa on Monday (12 September) to mark the third anniversary of the overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie and his replacement by a military regime.
A massive rally was staged in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa on Monday (12 September) to mark the third anniversary of the overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie and his replacement by a military regime. While the colourful parade was under way two hundred and fifty miles (402 kms) away a battle raged between Ethiopian and Somali troops for control of an important border town.
SYNOPSIS: More than half a million people had massed in the city square of Addis Ababa by the time Ethiopian military leader Lt. Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam arrived to make his address.
Lieutenant Colonel Mengistu Mariam who has been in power since February, was given a rousing welcome by the crowd packed into Addis Ababa's Revolution Square. The rally was a mixture of civilians, peasants and children, while most of Ethiopia's military were involved in fighting along border areas against Somali troops.
Lieutenant Colonel Mariam addressed the crowd for more than an hour and received an enthusiastic response to his speech. He told the people it was a historic day for Ethiopia as it was three years ago today that Emperor Haile Selassie was overthrown, and a new society and order established in Ethiopia.
While the parade was under way, only 250 miles away Ethiopian troops were engaged in battle with Somali soldiers over the border town of Jijiga. The outcome of this battle could be vital for Ethiopia in its efforts to regain the arid Ogaden Desert, which in recent months has become the centre of guerrilla activity in the continuing clashes between Somalia and Ethiopia.
The celebration rally gave the Ethiopians a chance to escape from the atmosphere of war in which they've been living for the past two months. Last week the situation worsened with the severing of relations between Ethiopia and Somalia. Both sides have claimed to have inflicted heavy losses. All available civilians have been called up to serve in Ethiopia's army, and since Lieutenant Colonel Mariam has been in power, the armed forces in Ethiopia have tripled. But for one day, the war was forgotten, and Ethiopians enjoyed the celebrations.