Human rights, Peace

Congratulations to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia on being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2019


As the youngest leader on the African continent Abiy Ahmed since taking office as Prime Minister has achieved peace and reform that most world leaders could only dream of


“We have only one option and that is to be united, not only cooperating and helping each other but uniting in order to live together,” PM Abiy Ahmed is quoted as saying. “So, our option should be to trust one another, heal our wounds together and work together to develop our country.”

Spearheading historic reform Ethiopia ended an autocracy when in April 2018 the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) elected Abiy Ahmed, unifier, reformer and peacemaker as Prime Minister to lead their country and their people into a new era of historic change.

2 April 2018 – becomes prime minister after unexpected resignation of Hailemariam Desalegn
May – released tens of thousands of political prisoners, including opposition leader Andargachew Tsege
5 June – lifts state of emergency two months early
5 June – agrees to accept border ruling giving disputed territory to Eritrea
9 July – alongside the Eritrean president declares the end of the 20 year conflict between the two countries
11 September – reopens land border with Eritrea
16 October – appoints women to half of ministerial posts

He authorised and sanctioned freedom of the media unblocking hundreds of websites and TV channels and Parliament accepted his female nominees for president and head of the Supreme Court; he released tens of thousands of detainees including journalists and for the first time ever there are no journalists in prison; he granted amnesty for individuals and groups either under investigation or convicted of treason, crimes against the constitutional order and armed struggle; he established a reconciliation commission and granted the return of dissident Birtukan Mideksa from exile in the United States to run the electoral commission. Fourteen years ago, Birtukan Mideksa spent 18 months in prison as leader of an opposition party before leaving Ethiopia for exile in the US.

“Thousands, if not millions, of people paid [a heavy price] to see this kind of change in this country… to see this opening,……To have a former opposition leader, former dissident, to lead an institution with significant independence of action… means a lot.” Ms Birtukan is quoted as stating.

The pace of change has delighted pro-democracy activists and Kenya which had been East Africa’s largest economy, was overtaken by Ethiopia in 2017 with a gross domestic product expected to reach about $100 billion by 2020 and when Isaias Afwerki, the only leader Eritrea has ever known met with Abiy Ahmed in Ethiopia, the two leaders declared an historic close to 20 years of tensions and elevating them into a different league as world statesmen.

Ethiopia as one of the fastest growing economies in the world has a vast number of unemployed youth and Abiy Ahmed wants to liberalise the economy and tackle corruption and plans for miraculous growth as Ethiopia’s once state-controlled telecoms, electricity and the national airline are to be opened up to foreign investment. The prospect of peace prevailing at last in the region is alluring and irresistible and inspiring widespread detente and among leaders once diametrically opposed. The good news of these radical reforms has spread far and wide beyond Ethiopia in particular to Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia. Ethiopian airlines landed in Mogadishu, Somalia, for the first time in 41 years and Djibouti is in talks to share access to its port to service Ethiopian commerce.

Ethiopia has more than 80 different ethnic groups and 1.4 million people were displaced by ethnic conflict in the first half of 2018 according to the UN.

Mr Abiy is the first leader to come from the Oromo community Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group but has stressed that he is a leader for all Ethiopians and his motto: “use ideas not weapons”.

Abiy is the son of a Muslim father and Christian mother and is himself a devout Pentecostal Christian.

“We have only one option and that is to be united, not only cooperating and helping each other but uniting in order to live together,” PM Abiy Ahmed is quoted as saying. “So, our option should be to trust one another, heal our wounds together and work together to develop our country.”

 

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