Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed collects Nobel Peace Prize, urges people to unite against ethnic violence

Abiy won the Nobel for his efforts to resolve the long-running conflict with Eritrea.

Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed collects Nobel Peace Prize, urges people to unite against ethnic violence
OSLO: Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed collected the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on Tuesday, appealing for unity as ethnic violence flares in his country and reconciliation efforts with neighbouring former foe Eritrea have stalled.

Abiy, 43, won the Nobel for his efforts to resolve the long-running conflict with Eritrea. Announced back in October, the prize also honoured his mediation efforts in eastern Africa and the democratic reforms he has undertaken in his country, long ruled by authoritarian leaders.

Ethiopia saw spectacular progress in the months after he took power in April 2018, but the winds have since shifted: in addition to the stalled peace process with Eritrea, his reforms aimed at opening up Ethiopia have paradoxically given rise to a flare-up of ethnic tensions.


Faced with these challenges, Africa's youngest leader called for unity as he picked up his award at Oslo's flower-bedecked City Hall, in a formal ceremony attended by the Norwegian royal family and dignitaries.

"There is no 'Us and Them'," he said. "There is only 'Us', for 'We' are all bound by a shared destiny of love, forgiveness and reconciliation." On July 9, 2018, following a historic meeting in Eritrea's capital Asmara, Abiy and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki formally ended a 20-year-old stalemate between their countries in the wake of the 1998-2000 border conflict.

That was just three months after Abiy took office.
ADVERTISEMENT

On Tuesday, Abiy was quick to praise the role of his Eritrean "partner and comrade-in-peace" -- the only leader Eritrea has known since it gained independence in 1993 -- in his Nobel Prize.


"We understood our nations are not enemies. Instead, we were victims of the common enemy called poverty," he said.

A former soldier himself, Abiy also testified to the ravages of war, recalling how his entire unit had been wiped out in an Eritrean artillery attack but he had survived after briefly leaving a foxhole to get better antenna reception. "War is the epitome of hell for all involved," he said.

ADVERTISEMENT
During the lightning-fast rapprochement that followed the peace deal with Asmara, embassies reopened, flights resumed and meetings were held across the region. But the "Abiymania" hype has faded and he is now facing major challenges.

The land border between the two nations is once again closed, and the question of border demarcations remains unresolved.

ADVERTISEMENT
"At present, this work seems to be at a standstill," said the head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen.

"It is the hope of the Norwegian Nobel Committee that your previous achievements, coupled with added encouragement of the Peace Prize, will spur the parties to further implementation of the peace treaties," she added. Abiy has vowed to hold the first "free, fair and democratic" elections since 2005 in May, and experts fear the Ethiopian leader may have to shift his attention away from the peace process to focus on the vote.

Made In Heaven: Abhijit Banerjee & Esther Duflo Aren't Alone; Other Couples Who Won Nobel
1/6

Marriages are made in heaven, but some partnerships are formed in the laboratory. Last week, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo became the sixth married couple to get the Nobel Prize. Here are the others:
(Image: AFP)

Marriages are made in heaven, but some partnerships are formed in the laboratory. Last week, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo became the sixth married couple to get the Nobel Prize. Here are the oth..
Read More
Marie and Pierre Curie
Nobel Prize in Physics, 1903

In 1903, Marie and Pierre Curie shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Professor Henri Becquerel. The duo was awarded for their joint research on the phenomenon of radiation. Their work laid the foundation for the modern-day applications of nuclear science, which range from power generation to medicine. Five years after her husband was killed in a road accident involving a horse-drawn carriage, Marie Curie won a second Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911 for discovering the elements radium and polonium. Curie’s efforts at isolating these radioactive elements in her lab came at great personal cost. She died in 1934 of aplastic anaemia, believed to be caused by prolonged exposure to radiation.

(Image: Nobel Foundation archive)
Marie and Pierre Curie Nobel Prize in Physics, 1903 In 1903, Marie and Pierre Curie shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Professor Henri Becquerel. The duo was awarded for their joint research on ..
Read More
Irène Curie and Frédéric Joliot
Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1935

Irène Curie, the eldest daughter of Marie and Pierre Curie, won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, along with her husband Frédéric Joliot. Upon graduation, Irène started working at the Radium Institute founded by her parents in Paris. In 1924, when Joliot came to work at the institute as Marie Curie’s assistant, it was Irène who showed him the ropes. They got married in 1926. Their research on the projection of nuclei led to the discovery of subatomic particles like the neutron and positron. They were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in 1935 for discovering artificial radioactivity.

(Image: Nobel Foundation archive)
Irène Curie and Frédéric Joliot Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1935 Irène Curie, the eldest daughter of Marie and Pierre Curie, won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, along with her husband Frédéric Joliot. U..
Read More
Gerty and Carl Cori
Nobel Prize in Medicine, 1947

Carl Cori completed medical school in 1920, having served in the Austro-Hungarian Army during the First World War. He married his classmate Gerty Theresa Cori née Radnitz, who hailed from a Jewish family in Prague. The couple emigrated from Vienna to Buffalo, New York, in 1922 on account of the deteriorating political condition in Europe. In 1947, after nearly three decades of working together, they were awarded the Nobel for their discovery of the mechanism by which glycogen, a derivate of glucose, is broken down in muscle tissues. “Our collaboration began 30 years ago when we were still medical students at the University of Prague and has continued ever since. Our efforts have been largely complementary, and one without the other would not have gone as far as in combination,” Carl Cori said in his Nobel acceptance speech.

(Image: Nobel Foundation archive)
Gerty and Carl Cori Nobel Prize in Medicine, 1947 Carl Cori completed medical school in 1920, having served in the Austro-Hungarian Army during the First World War. He married his classmate Gerty Th..
Read More
Alva and Gunnar Myrdals
Nobel Prize in Economics (1974), Peace (1982)

The Myrdals are the only couple to be felicitated with the Nobel Prize in two separate disciplines. They were social scientists whose work concerned welfare economics and the role families play in shaping communities in the post-war world. Gunnar was jointly awarded the Economics Prize in 1974 for his research correlating politics with socioeconomic outcomes. Alva, a sociologist who dipped her feet in Swedish politics, was a staunch proponent of the disarmament movement. She won the Peace Prize in 1982 — at the height of the Cold War — for her efforts in creating a consensus against nuclear proliferation.

(Image: KW Gullers/Nordiska museet via Nobel Foundation archive)
Alva and Gunnar Myrdals Nobel Prize in Economics (1974), Peace (1982) The Myrdals are the only couple to be felicitated with the Nobel Prize in two separate disciplines. They were social scientists ..
Read More
May-Britt and Edvard Moser
Nobel Prize in Medicine, 2014

The Norwegian couple were awarded the 2014 Medicine Prize for their discovery of human beings’ ‘inner GPS’ – cells that constitute a native positioning system in the brain. This type of cell is located near the hippocampus, an area located at the centre of the brain. Experimental research founded that when a rat was let loose in a hexagonal grid arranged in space, certain nerve cells that formed a coordinate system for navigation were mapped. The Mosers’ work helped explain why Alzheimer’s patients are incapable of recognising their surroundings, contributing to advancement in treatment focused on targeted treatment of the affected ce

(Image: Nobel Foundation archive)
May-Britt and Edvard Moser Nobel Prize in Medicine, 2014 The Norwegian couple were awarded the 2014 Medicine Prize for their discovery of human beings’ ‘inner GPS’ – cells that constitute a native p..
Read More


In stark contrast to his authoritarian predecessors, Abiy has lifted the state of emergency, released dissidents from jail, apologised for state brutality and welcomed home exiled armed groups.

He also established a national reconciliation committee and lifted a ban on some political parties.

But less than two weeks after the Nobel announcement in October, anti-Abiy protests left 86 people dead.

In his Nobel speech, he denounced the "evangelists of hate and division" who are "wreaking havoc in our society using social media".

Meanwhile, the Nobel festivities have been tainted by Abiy's refusal to field questions from the media, as the ex-intelligence chief has considerably shortened the traditional Nobel programme and cut out all news conferences.

The head of the Nobel Institute, Olav Njolstad, called the decision "highly problematic", noting that a "free press and freedom of expression are essential conditions for a lasting peace in a democracy." Abiy's entourage responded that it was "quite challenging" for a sitting leader to spend several days at such an event, especially when "domestic issues are pressing and warrant attention".

They also said Abiy's "humble disposition" contrasted with "the very public nature of the Nobel award".

The Nobel Peace Prize consists of a diploma, a gold medal and a cheque for nine million Swedish kronor (850,000 euros, $945,000).

The other Nobel prizes for literature, physics, chemistry, medicine and economics will also be handed over on Tuesday, but in Stockholm.
Download
The Economic Times Business News App
for the Latest News in Business, Sensex, Stock Market Updates & More.
READ MORE
ADVERTISEMENT

READ MORE:

LOGIN & CLAIM

50 TIMESPOINTS

More from our Partners

Loading next story
Text Size:AAA
Success
This article has been saved

*

+