Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Ahmed: From peace prize to grinding war – News Vibe24

    Ethiopia's PM Abiy Ahmed: From peace prize to grinding war - Times of India
    ADDIS ABABA: Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed embarked on his dream of sweeping Nobel Peace Prize-winning reforms before being fired in a horrific internal conflict that shows no sign of ending.
    Now, as Ethiopia prepares to vote in Monday’s general election that Abiy hopes to secure a popular term, it is finding its global position – and the wave of hope that accompanied his appointment has plummeted.
    However, even when faced with persistent insecurity that has hampered the basic preparation of the poll in some areas, Abiy seems unbearable.
    The logo of his Prosperity Party adorns the streets of the capital, Addis Ababa, and Abby insists his vision for Africa’s second most populous country remains.
    In a speech in April, he told supporters, in the vernacular of the brand, that while Ethiopia may appear to be in crisis, the real problem was perception.
    He compares the experience of the country with that of a village child who was disoriented while driving for the first time.
    “When the car moves forward, the buildings and trees go backwards and we get confused,” he said.
    “In the same way, we are now confused because we believe it is the tree that moves instead of the car.
    “Believe it or not, Ethiopia and Ethiopia are booming once again.”
    Abiy was once the same village boy.
    Born in the western city of Beshasha to a Muslim father and a Christian mother, he has described sleeping on the floor in a house without electricity or running water.
    Fascinated with technology, he joined the army as a radio operator while still a teenager.
    In his 2019 Nobel speech, he recalled his time during the brutal 1998-2000 border war with Eritrea, saying his entire unit disappeared in an Eritrean artillery attack that he survived only because he had left a fox to take better antenna reception.
    He rose to prominence as a lieutenant colonel before becoming the first head of Ethiopia’s cyber-espionage intelligence service.
    Then came his tenure as legislator and minister of science and technology.
    The circumstances that promoted Abiy to the high office can be identified at the end of 2015.
    A government plan to expand the capital’s administrative boundaries to the surrounding Oromia region was seen as a snatch, sparking protests led by Oromos, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, and the Amharas, the second largest.
    The ruling coalition at the time, the People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front of Ethiopia (EPRDF), resorted to its usual tactics: emergencies and mass arrests.
    These proved to be insufficient.
    When then-Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn abruptly resigned, coalition parties elected Abiy to become Oromo’s first prime minister in 2018.
    He released dissidents from prison, apologized for state violence and welcomed exiled groups – part of a democratic renaissance aimed at culminating in the most competitive election in Ethiopia’s history.
    But Abiy faced a number of obstacles, especially persistent ethnic violence, including in his homeland of Oromia.
    All the while, the North Tigris region was something.
    His ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), had dominated national politics before Abiy’s rise, and its leaders did not take kindly to his perceived efforts to bypass them.
    When Abiy dissolved the EPRDF and founded the Welfare Party in 2019, the TPLF refused to follow suit.
    In September 2020, he impatiently defied the prime minister by holding “illegal” regional elections, ignoring a national poll ban imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.
    Two months later, Abiy accused the TPLF of attacking federal army camps and ordering troops in Tigray.
    Although he promised that the conflict would be swift, the fighting continued for almost seven months, with TPLF leaders in general and indications of brutal massacres and rapes.
    Meanwhile, world leaders are warning of a humanitarian catastrophe.
    Abiy is married to Zinash Tayachew, whom she met in the army.
    The couple has three daughters and adopted a baby boy in August 2018.
    Deeply ambitious, Abiy was accused of focusing on the beauty of the capital and mediating conflicts abroad rather than the situation at home.
    He has also been accused of embracing the same authoritarianism that many hoped would end, overseeing mass arrests and abuses by security forces.
    Gone are the difficult days of “Abiymania” that followed his appointment in 2018. Now his opponents openly respect him.
    “I think he is stuck somewhere,” Mera Gudina, the leader of the opposition from Oromia, whose party is boycotting the election, told AFP.
    “He started behaving like a lost child at a crossroads. Such a child cannot return because he does not know where he came from and he cannot move on because he does not know where he is going.”
    His supporters, however, remain true believers.
    Early in the Tigray War, some officials even suggested that, given Abiy’s efforts to resolve the conflict, their boss might deserve “a second Nobel Prize.”