Ethiopian activist slams ‘authoritarian’ Nobel winner Abiy Ahmed

6 mins read

Spate of violence provokes the strongest criticisms yet yet of PM’s leadership

Deadly clashes in the capital Addis Ababa threaten the region’s precarious peace © Tiksa Negeri/Reuters
A photo taken on September 3, 2018, shows Jawar Mohammed, a prominent Oromo activist and the director of the Oromo Media Network, posing during an interview with AFP in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. - Ethiopian opponent Jawar, running the United States-based Oromia Media Network (OMN), returned to Ethiopia in August 2018 after the country withdrew coup plotting charges it had filed against him in 2017. (Photo by Maheder HAILESELASSIE TADESE / AFP) (Photo credit should read MAHEDER HAILESELASSIE TADESE/AFP via Getty Images)
Mr Jawar described the incident on Facebook, triggering protests by members of his Oromo ethnic group who clashed with other communities and state security forces, leaving at least 78 people dead. “I am now convinced, one hundred per cent, [the incident] was an assassination plot,” Mr Jawar said. “I cannot say for sure whether it was officially coming from [Mr Abiy] but it was orchestrated by individuals who were at the top of the food chain on security.”
Earlier in the day, Mr Abiy, also from Oromia, appeared to threaten his former ally in parliament, promising the government would “take measures” against media owners undermining “the peace and existence of Ethiopia”.  The public battle between Mr Abiy and Mr Jawar has focused attention on the stark challenges of reforming Ethiopia and risks of further violence. The prime minister’s office declined to comment on Mr Jawar’s allegations.  Recommended Abiy Ahmed Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Ahmed wins Nobel Peace Prize Mr Abiy’s Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front and its allies control all 547 seats in the national parliament. Designed as a coalition of four parties from Ethiopia’s most powerful regions, the EPRDF is supposed to allow power-sharing between different ethnic groups but has became a mechanism for some regions to dominate others.
Mr Abiy ascended to party leader in 2018 after two years of anti-government protests, promising to reform the coalition and usher in multi-party democracy. He released political prisoners and unbanned opposition groups but failed, Mr Jawar said, to engage in a national dialogue, relying instead on his own judgment. “When you permit all these politicians and political parties, it is like allowing ten, twenty soccer clubs into a single field without clear referees, without clear rules, and any clash between these players manifests itself in violence among the spectators in the stadium,” he said.  Since 2018, hundreds of Ethiopians have been killed in politically-charged clashes between different communities and millions displaced. © AFP via Getty Images Mr Abiy wants to turn the coalition into a single national party and allow more space for other political groups ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for May. Mr Jawar says the prime minister is taking unilateral decisions to consolidate his position. “His campaign is to reduce the autonomy of the federal groups and centralise decision-making,” he said.
The disagreement strikes at the heart of the question of how much power to vest in Ethiopia’s nine ethnic regions, and how best to democratise the country of 105m people after decades of authoritarian rule.
Mr Abiy has made progress but the recent violence demonstrates the extent of the challenge, said Mehari Taddele Maru, analyst and adviser to the regional body IGAD. To avoid further conflict Mr Abiy must build a national consensus, he said. But with national elections seven months away, and political opinions diverging, there is significant risk of more violence, according to William Davison of International Crisis Group.  “While the goals of Abiy’s government are laudable, the transitional process to move out from the old system and into a new more democratic one is not going well,” he said. “It has been very violent so far and it threatens to get worse.”


  1. 50 Oromos, 20 Amharas, 8 Gamo, 2 Silte, 1 Guraghe, 2 Hadya, 1 Argoba and the ethic identity of one victim is not established

    According to the above data , I firmly reach to the conclusion that Amhara elites the most violent people in that old country . But, What amhara is claining is a far cry from what we heard from the horses mouth. A complete lairs and killers throughout the Ethiopian history§

    Amharas stop it being a violent and spreading hate . You are tabot sellers and traitors

  2. I am starting to think most of us Ethiopians need to be checked for bipolar disorder .

    Ethiopians liked PM Abiy as if he was the answer not only to all their prayers they prayed but also as if he was the answer to all the prayers many will ever pray just a year and some months ago – a manic episode.

    Now all that went down the drain and the depressive episode is going on among almost all of us wishing we never knew Abiy in the first place we never cheered for him – depressive episode.

    All the khat users especially need to be checked for bipolar episode they be best of friends now later they be worst of enemies. Moody bipolarism is too common.

  3. I don’t see any real conflict between these two individuals. One claims to have the support of more than 50 million people. That is right, 50 million and those 50 million are not from diverse background but from one. The other one is allegedly the leader of 100 million people including the 50 million already claimed by his challenger. From the recent revelation I am not sure why and for what these two act out for us to be adversaries. They both have skeletons in their cabinets. So I tell these two to take their ‘siyasas’ somewhere else. I will not believe the bone the ‘leader’ of the 100 million people has with the OLF now or in the past. What was all that negotiation about in 2018 in Asmara? It was a charade? How could that be? How and what do you negotiate with someone you worked for? I think we all have been had by the slick willies!!! What is the world coming to? As far as I have always known, those who claim to be guided by the Holy Scriptures they are not supposed to do or never do things behind your back. These two are sitting on soiled chairs.

    That was why exactly I opined about the leadership before. I had made my conviction very clear that from now on no one from the three ethnic groups, Oromo, Amhara and Tigray should be given the top leadership position. Anyone from these three is guaranteed to bring along boatloads of undesirable baggage along all the way to the palace. That is if the country is desired to continue in its present day status. All the indications show me that its fate already sealed. And it is becoming too difficult for me now to believe in what the young PM is saying. He said 86 citizens were butchered and more 400 were arrested. I scoured all over the web and could not find a single mug shot of those who committed the savage act or the list of the deceased. He did not say anything about those members of the security who were allegedly just watching the carnage from the safe distance. This accusation was made by the Oromo survivors who fell victims because they refused to join the massacre. I did not hear a single word from him about these government paid by-standers.

    So folks!!! Don’t be surprised if you hear a rash of new ‘republics’ in the near future.

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