Abiy Ahmed, a Nobel Peace Prize winner on the battlefield

This content was published on 24 November 2021 – 15:11

(Corrects the eighth paragraph because it was talking about “nations” and when it should say “ethnic groups”)

Pablo Moraga

Nairobi, Nov 24 (EFE) .- Ethiopia today provided an unlikely image two years ago: the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize and Prime Minister of this country, Abiy Ahmed, has donned the military uniform to lead his Army in the battle front.

In this way, Abiy wants to send a clear announcement to the rest of Ethiopians: it is time to “sacrifice” to defend the country and “confront” the rebels of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray (FPLT), as he expressed this Monday in his account. from Twitter.

But the most important message must be read between the lines: the prime minister cares less about his image as a conciliatory leader, deteriorated by a war that began more than a year ago, than the military advances of the FPLT, increasingly closer to the capital, Addis. Abeba.

Not even an avalanche of calls for a cessation of hostilities – coming from both Western countries and the African Union and African leaders – has prevented Abiy from continuing to bet on a military pulse to defeat the PFLT forces.

It is not the first time that Abiy has stepped onto a battlefield. This 45-year-old man grew up surrounded by guns, fighting since he was a teenager – in the 90s – with the rebels who declared war on the communist regime that ruled Ethiopia since 1974.

These rebels deposed the government and created a new regime, dominated by the FPLT and an ethnic group, the Tigriños, who despite representing only 7% of the population controlled Ethiopia’s political power for almost three decades, from 1991 to the Abiy’s arrival to the head of the Executive in 2018.

After massive demonstrations against the Government, in which thousands of people of other ethnic groups took to the streets demanding more political representation, Abiy came to power granting amnesty to thousands of political prisoners, legalizing opposition parties and signing a historic peace agreement with Eritrea.

But his quest for Ethiopia’s unity within the diversity of its more than eighty ethnic groups cost him a powerful enemy, the FPLT, which on November 4, 2020 and after an escalation of political tensions attacked a federal military base.

That day marked the beginning of a war that, according to UN data, has so far killed thousands of people and some two million have had to leave their homes due to violence.

Likewise, the obstacles that the government puts on humanitarian workers, preventing them from accessing some regions at war, have worsened a famine that already affects more than seven million Ethiopians, according to the World Food Program (WFP).

Abiy, the same man who during the award ceremony of his Nobel Peace Prize asserted that “war is the epitome of hell”, does not want to take a step back to protect the reforms that his Administration carried out in Ethiopia, although that objective means opening the doors of “hell” that he mentioned in Oslo. EFE

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Abiy Ahmed, a Nobel Peace Prize winner on the battlefield