A Nobel Prize That Will Live in Infamy

Tigray war, image from tghat.com

Who is Abiy Ahmed?

Lost in the excitement of the last three years was perhaps one simple fact: Abiy Ahmed is the product of the EPRDF, the much-vilified organization by many Ethiopians. He served in the organization for two decades, and he did it well. As anyone who remotely knows the EPRDF will tell you, no one rises through its ranks as a human rights activist — you must do what you need to do to thrive.

Abiymania

Following the Mekelle speech, Gondar of the Amhara state was his next destination. In full traditional Amhara garb, Abiy unloaded exactly what the Amhara people wanted to hear. “Amhara, the center of modern Ethiopia, the land of the proud, the far-sighted and the beautiful people,” Abiy declared. The speech was well-received, with nearly as much applause as there were lines. Other cities soon followed in quick succession, each time with the same delivery and the same outcome.

Abiy with Noble Prize, image from nobelprize.org

The rude awakening

For Ethiopians at home and abroad, the euphoria did not last long. Soon, they were in for a rude awakening. Gaps between his talks and deeds started appearing and gained momentum in the months that followed. Ethiopia would see killings, displacements and lawlessness on a scale never seen before, much of it originating in his home state of Oromia, where his followers and local thugs acted with near impunity.

Abiy must be held accountable

Contrary to the speeches of love, forgiveness, and unity he preached elsewhere, Abiy Ahmed was and remains all about gaining power, by sectarian means when necessary. In February 2020, he delivered a highly divisive speech in Bale, Oromia. Speaking to an Oromo audience, his base, he said, “We have humiliated those who humiliated us before. We have defeated those who defeated us before. We control their movements as much as they controlled ours.” These are hardly the words of a man preaching peace. They are tribal. They are about war.

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Helen Solomon

Helen Solomon

I write about Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa