In Ethiopia, mass rallies have been held throughout the country in support of the Ethiopian leader Mengistu Haile Mariam.
In Ethiopia, mass rallies have been held throughout the country in support of the Ethiopian leader Mengistu Haile Mariam. Most of the rallies were addressed by speakers who condemned what they called the manoeuvres of certain Western countries. They also reiterated the Ethiopian people's determination to "purify" the country's frontiers and to face up to "the Somali challenge".
SYNOPSIS: One such rally was held in the ancient walled city of Harar on Friday (3 February). Thousands of demonstrators, carrying banners and flags and chanting slogans, made their way through city streets to the national stadium.
They were supporting a speech by Colonel Mengistu in which he accused the United States of co-ordinating an international plot to build up Somalia's military strength and to put the Horn of Africa "under anti-Ethiopian forces". In a nationwide broadcast over Addis Ababa radio on 30 January, he said plans had been drawn up to "assist Somalia's naked and unjust invasion" of Ethiopian territory.
If the invasion failed, Colonel Mengistu said, "Iranian forces would directly intervene and fight alongside Somali forces." He claimed the countries in the alleged plot were Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, West Germany, Egypt, and the United States. Ethiopian and Somali forces are struggling for control of the Ogaden desert. And much of the demonstrators' wrath was directed at President Mohamed Siad Barre of Somalia.
On display at the stadium were some of the weapons captured from Somali forces.
The demonstrators continued their singing and chanting inside the stadium, where they were joined by representatives of the ruling Provisional Military Administrative Council.
Allegations made by Colonel Mengistu have been denied by the United States.