Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed has won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. Here’s why.

Filed under: News |

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (CNN)Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia has won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending the 20-year war between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Announcing the prize in Oslo, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said Ahmed’s “efforts deserve recognition and need encouragement.”

Why Ethiopians believe their new Prime Minister is a prophet

Abiy was the second favorite to win after the climate change activist Greta Thunberg, according to bookmakers Betfair and William Hill.
The Ethiopian Prime Minister’s office tweeted out a statement after Abiy Ahmed saying it was “pleased to express our pride” in the selection, adding that Abiy “has made peace, forgiveness and reconciliation key policy components of his administration.”
Awol Allo, a fellow Ethiopian and an associate professor of law at Keele University in Britain, said the Prime Minister deserves the prize for his role in ending the conflict — a largely pointless war over disputed border territory that came at a huge financial and human cost to both countries.

Abiy, left, and Eritrean leader Isaias Afwerki celebrate the Eritrean Embassy's reopening in Addis Ababa.

“I think what Abiy did with the Eritrea issue was very courageous and remarkable. I think a lot of people have considered that what he has done is worthy of such a recognition.
“The two countries are no longer in the state of war. Families have been reunited because flights are now running between the two countries. Relations that have been severed for 20 years have been rekindled,” Allo said.
The 43-year-old Abiy also recently won plaudits for his role in helping to broker a power-sharing deal in neighboring Sudan, after a political crisis that led to the arrest of Omar al-Bashir, the country’s ruler for almost three decades.
“That also speaks to someone who takes peace and stability in the Horn of Africa seriously,” Allo said.

A modern day African leader

Abiy became Ethiopia’s Prime Minister in April 2018, the first Oromo to lead his country. The Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, had never been in prominent positions of power. Grievances of their economic and political exclusion drove anti-government protests across the country.
For years, Ethiopia had been engulfed in states of emergencies; protests were met with a government crackdown and thousands fled across the border into Kenya. Under public pressure, Hailemariam Desalegn dramatically and unexpectedly resigned.
Abiy joined the Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation as a teenager. He stayed close to his people, even as he claimed victory in an internal Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front vote on March 27 to become chairman of the ruling party.
That victory secured his place as Prime Minister of an East African powerhouse which has a population of more than 100 million people.
The early months of his premiership were marked with bold and progressive decision making; he released the country’s political prisoners, denouncing their torture and also freeing jailed journalists.
Before the new Abiy era, rival politicians and unfavored journalists were either in exile or locked in Ethiopia’s jails, including Addis Ababa’s infamous Maekelawi prison, where many alleged abuses took place. Abiy later shut down the prison.
In June last year, as prisoners were being released on his orders, a legislator in the Ethiopian Parliament asked the Prime Minister if it was constitutional to release people who had been jailed for terrorism and corruption.
Abiy reportedly responded: “Jailing and torturing, which we did, are not constitutional either. Does the constitution say anyone who was sentenced by a court can be tortured, put in a dark room? Torturing, putting people in dark rooms, is our act of terrorism.”
This was a profound admission by a Prime Minister, unheard of in modern-day Africa.
He also met with the political opposition and civil society to discuss reform and invited previously exiled political parties to return to their country. He embarked on major institutional reforms, including the security and justice sectors.
Women were not left out of his progressive agenda. Abiy showed his commitment to gender equality by appointing women to half of his cabinet. Ethiopia’s parliament even appointed the country’s first female president, Sahle-Work Zewde, and the nation’s first Supreme Court chief, Meaza Ashenafi, was sworn into office.
The style of leadership was different from anything seen before in Ethiopia’s ruling party. There were “listening rallies” attended by tens of thousands, town hall meetings in which the vision of true democracy and unity were re-emphasized.

‘Appeasing Westerners’

The international community has largely embraced his initiatives and reforms, such as the recent planting of millions of trees in the country to curb the effects of climate change. This has led to accusations of “appeasing Westerners” and some like blogger Daniel Berhane do not believe he deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.
Berhane, a prominent blogger based in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa spoke to CNN ahead of the decision. He said: “I do not think he will or should win. If that happens, it will be an endorsement of a person that does not like institutions or teamwork but just churns out half-baked ideas aimed at appeasing Westerners,” he told CNN.
“A win will exacerbate his narcissism and would be detrimental to the prospects of institutionalized reform and stability of the country.”
Jawar Mohammed is an influential political figure within Ethiopia and within the country’s large diaspora communities in North America and Europe.
He applauds Ahmed’s work so far but believes there is still a long way to go before his reforms can bring stability to one of the most troubled regions in the world.
“Prime Minister Abiy has done a wonderful job in bringing peace with and within the neighboring countries,” Mohammed, the executive director of the Oromia Media Network, told CNN.
“However, he has to do a lot more to bring peace and stability domestically and to ensure the transition to democracy succeeds.”

Fast-growing economy

The end of the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea catapulted Abiy and Ethiopia into a different status — and redefined the Horn of Africa nation as a regional powerhouse.
The Arab Gulf states across the Red Sea took notice for their own reasons — primarily the Horn of Africa’s proximity to Yemen and the clear desire to be part of a fast-growing economy.
The tremors of these vast changes have been felt beyond Ethiopia. Eritrea and now Djibouti and Somalia are all feeling the Abiy effect.
Ethiopian airlines landed in Mogadishu, Somalia, for the first time in 41 years. Djibouti is in talks to share access to its port to service Ethiopian needs. The idea of peace coming to this region at last is an exciting prospect.
However, Abiy has been grappling with the displacement of people in different parts of the country, including in Oromia and Amhara regional governments.
According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, about 2.9 million people were newly displaced in 2018 because of conflict in Ethiopia.
The lack of security is threatening the foreign direct investment pouring into Ethiopia since Abiy opened up state-controlled telecoms, electricity and even the national airline to investors.
The country’s gross domestic product is expected to reach about $100 billion by 2020, making it one of the fastest-growing economies in the region.

7 Responses to Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed has won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. Here’s why.

  1. Abiy really deserves the Nobel peace prize. However, he has to make maximum effort to stabilize the country by bringing national reconciliation and building consensus among the polarized political elites representing the old ruling classes and the suppressed nations and nationalities. The problem of lack of unanimously common historical background, perceptions about the former ruler (kings) and thee issue of lack of common feeling about the ‘national’ flag of three colors, belongingness of Finfinne, etc., has to be negotiated to end the suspicion of among those representing the older Abyssinian rulers and the subjects (colonized) people of the country. If these issues will net be resolved on time, the likelihood of staying conflicting on these issues will continue. this in return has negative impacts on the peace and stability of the people and economic progress, upcoming election, etc.
    Political elites should be urged to come together and discuss on these major issues creating conflict between these two groups. The oppressed has to heart fully accept the historical wounds created by former Abyssinian kings/ruler on the subject people of the south. It is only through open and transparent discussion and confession of the crimes committed by the Abyssinian rulers by their supporters involved in false narratives and false justifications that wounds could be healed. Otherwise, we will be in vicious circles of shafting blames.

    Avatar for Badhoo Baraa

    Badhoo Baraa
    October 11, 2019 at 8:19 am
    Reply

  2. Abiy Ahmed Ali,

    Make sure you will return this prize once the world community comes back to its senses and realizes that you are a fake guy who is politically led by Joo-war Mohamed, an alkaida lieutenant in East Africa, that you are the brain-child behind the potential disintegration of mother Ethiopia (God forbid) and a cause for endless war in East Africa.

    Do not rejoice much as the prize is not yet yours!!!

    Avatar for Meseret

    Meseret
    October 11, 2019 at 8:46 am
    Reply

  3. Mr Baraa,

    If you want an honest and civilized discussion, let me ask you a question. Are you guys ready to apologize for the invasion of Northern Ethiopia by your ancestors more than 500 years ago? Let me remind you that during this time the language of Gondar was oromogna as the rulers were speakers of this language. During this invasion of Northern Ethiopia, your soldiers killed millions of Amharas and mutilated the genitals of males and breasts of females. Please do not say this is untrue as this is crystal clear to everybody who know a little bit of history.

    So, to make a long story short, history did not begin yesterday. That is why we say, in the history of Ethiopia, groups who were victims one time were conquerers at other times and vice versa. That is why we also say Addis Ababa belongs to all of us as you cannot tell me who owned this land before the oromos owned it or the oromos were owners of this land this biblical time.

    Avatar for meseret

    meseret
    October 11, 2019 at 8:03 pm
    Reply

  4. Meseret – I fear the likes of you are so politically skewed nothing makes them smile except bloodshed. In the long history of Ethiopia no such noble man came to power. He has changed a lot in a short period of time. The very fact the country is still mired with tribalism has nothing to do with him. The ground work and the fuse was lit before the TPLF left the country and holed up in Mekelle. He has stated unequivocally he wants to see a united and prospering Ethiopia. What more do you want? Yes, some twisted Oromo politicians tell us it is their turn. I am not so much worried whose turn it is; I am more worried how they govern. The world is becoming one and the Oromo elite still cries separation.
    He indeed deserves the peace prize. After all, they have given it to President Obama for doing nothing. That to me was the joke of the century! Like Sebhat Nega you are lamenting without remorse as to why the PM was given the prize. Oh well, TPLF was trying to kill him through their Oromo connections. He survived that. We know they will not sleep till they come to power one more time. Oh no, those days are gone. There is zero chance for the TPLF to rule Ethiopia again. You extreme Oromos better learn the fact strength comes from unity. If you are dreaming to create an Oromia out of the country, I shall predict chaos and bloodshed through out the country will come. Bekele Gerba and his Co. need to rethink their position. If they think TPLF is better than Dr. Abiye’s government they ought to get checked their heads. It is pure madness! Congrats Dr. Abiye!

    Avatar for Tesfa

    Tesfa
    October 11, 2019 at 9:58 pm
    Reply

  5. tesfa you are higdef cadre , eritrean slave

    stop meddling in our politics and national affaire

    stop adgi
    Ofcourse he deserve to have it ifonly and only we see this prize as something to encourage division, massacre and chaos in ethiopia.because he is a killer and working to maintain his power at the expense of putting the life of millions in danger . What did he hhas done to ethiopia ? tell me ???

    Avatar for firtuna

    firtuna
    October 12, 2019 at 7:16 am
    Reply

  6. Prime Minister Abiy deserves to win the Nobel Peace Price. The committee in Norway closed at the end of January to decide who, among the 300 and some nominees, should win the peace price.

    The first nine or ten months of Abiy made everybody happy except for one extremist faction of OLF. Millions of Ethiopians were in a state of Nirvana between April 2018 and January of 2019. As stated above, the committee was considering only that of before the end of January 2019.

    I never liked DERG but I was happy when Colonel Goshu Wolde won the UNESCO award for Ethiopia in trying to eradicate illiteracy in Ethiopia. [Colonel Goshu was never a member of DERG].

    Likewise, I don’t like EPRDF or ethnic politics but I’m happy ‘the ABITCHU’ ABIY won the Nobel Peace Price. And I’m sure being a Nobel Laureate will make him listened to more, mainly by the problematic and uglier side of EPRDF.

    Avatar for Ibro

    Ibro
    October 14, 2019 at 11:46 am
    Reply

  7. TESFA,

    I GREATLY APPRECIATE YOUR RESPONSE BUT I BEG TO DIFFER. DID ABIY DO SOMETHING WHEN THE OROMO AND TIGRE EXTREMISTS ARE TRYING TO CREATE HAVOC IN THE AMHARA REGION? WHY WAS HE SO QUICK TO DESTROY AMAHRA NATIONAL MOVEMENT, WHILE JO-WAR AND CO LIVE IN GOVERNMENT PAID FIVE STAR HOTELS, PROTECTED BY GOVERNMENT HIRED BODY GARDS AND CONSPIRE DAY AND NIGHT AGAINST ETHIOPIA AND ETHIOPIANS. ONE IS BIOLOGICAL SON, WHEREAS THE OTHER IS A STEP SON AS THE SAYING GOES.

    DO NOT YOU KNOW THAT AMHARA NATIONAL MOVEMENT AND BALADERA LEADERS ARE THROWN IN A DARK JAIL FOR NO REASON OTHER THAN BEING AMHARAS. THESE GUYS ARE FALSELY ACCUSED OF PARTICIPATING IN THE SO CALLED COUP, BUT INTERROGATED BY OPDO CADRES ABOUT WHO FUNDS THEIR ORGANIZATIONS.
    WHAT DID ABIY SAY WHEN CONFRONTED BY A LADY FROM GEDEO THAT HER COMMUNITY STARTED TO BE DISPLACED BEGINNING THE DAY HE BECAME A PM? HE REPLIED THAT SHE WILL BE FREE WHEN HE LEAVES HIS PM POSITION. WHAT A STONE-HEARTED GUY!!

    WHAT DID ABIY SAY WHEN A GROUP OF MILITARY PEOPLE COME TO THE PALACE TO “VISIT” HIM? THAT THE OROMOS AROUND ADDIS WILL COME AND SAVE HIM AS THERI GOVERNMENT WAS IN DANGER, WITHOUT SAYING ANYTHING ABOUT ADDISABABANS WHO WELCOME HIM WITH EXTENDED ARMS.

    THAT IS THE REASON I SAY ABIY IS NOT MY PM AND DOES NOT DESERVE THE NOBEL PRIZE.

    Avatar for meseret

    meseret
    October 14, 2019 at 11:24 pm
    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.