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Abiy Ahmed’s quest for peace

Published : Oct 13, 2019, 12:02 am IST
Updated : Oct 13, 2019, 12:02 am IST

The changes were not without opposition; an attempt on his life was made within months of him initiating the reform process.

Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (Photo: AFP)
 Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (Photo: AFP)

The Prime Minister who presides over the fastest growing economy in Africa has been given a Nobel Prize this time. It's not for economics but for peace, though.

Abiy Ahmed, 43, has been the Prime Minister of Ethiopia for hardly two years but he has chased peace with a vengeance that befits the ruler of a country which history says never allowed itself to be colonised. Ethiopian democracy is an infant; born only in 1974 when Marxists ended about 3,500 years of dynastic rule. The man, who came to power as an insider when the ruling coalition felt popular pressure for democratic reforms, launched peace efforts within the country and also with its neighbour, Eritrea, which was part of Ethiopia till 1991 and gained independence after armed struggle. The partition was, however, followed with a fight over Badme, a town on their shared border. Mr Abiy offered it to Eritrea as suggested by a UN panel in a peace deal, and the two nations ended the war officially in July last year, allowing people of the two countries to meet and greet each other after two decades. Within the country, he initiated the process of democracy by freeing thousands of political opponents; he has now offered to hold multi-party transparent elections next year. “Let’s break the wall, let's build a bridge… let’s build a just society” is a recurring theme of his speeches.

The Ethiopian economy recorded 7.7 per cent growth in 2018, making it the fastest growing economy in Africa, supported by an increase in industrial activity, including investments in infrastructure and manufacturing. And the country with a median age of 18 is all set to reap the demographic dividend in the years to come.

The changes were not without opposition; an attempt on his life was made within months of him initiating the reform process. This must be a compelling reason for the Norwegian Nobel Committee to stand by him noting that he “has initiated important reforms that give many citizens hope for a better life and a brighter future”. The change must sustain; for prosperity is a dividend of peace.

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