Is Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed following in the footsteps of Burmese Aung San Suu Kyi? Or even a little faster. Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1991, the famous opponent of Myanmar still took nearly three decades to become like those she was fighting. It took only two years for the Ethiopian leader to make the Norwegian committee regret his choice.
In 2019, Prime Minister Ahmed was nevertheless promising. By releasing political prisoners upon his arrival and by participating in the resolution of the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, Abiy Ahmed had won the favor of the international community. He was only 42 at the time.
Pentecostal, Abiy Ahmed knew at the time that religious and ethnic problems could be a danger to the stability of his country. He reconciles, in mid-2018, the Ethiopian Christian communities. In December 2019, while receiving his Nobel Peace Prize, Abiy Ahmed resumed religious terms to warn local populations. “Evangelists of hatred and division are creating chaos in our society by using social media,” he said during his speech. They preach the gospel of revenge and punishment on the air ”.
He then took the prime minister for a year and a half. And in his words, we feel the appeasement and the will to settle conflicts through dialogue. We are therefore far from imagining that, in November 2020, he will send his troops to combat. “War makes people bitter. Heartless and savage men, ”he declared when receiving his Nobel. Today, Abiy Ahmed has become a warlord in Tigray, in a war behind closed doors that worries.
A heavy intervention in Tigray
And the Prime Minister, according to his detractors, is no stranger to what is happening in this region of Africa. For Awol Allo, professor of law at Keele University, who spoke on the BBC, “Abiy excluded all members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray (TPLF) from the cabinet. He then postponed the elections. The TPLF then organized elections in Tigray. They said they did not recognize him. He in return claimed that he did not recognize them, and that is what led to the war ”.
Beyond his desire to go to war, Abiy Ahmed did not measure the extent of what was happening in Tigray. Or he pretended to find out. Because three weeks after the start of the military operation there, the Ethiopian Prime Minister proclaimed the victory of his army, "without civilian casualties" he said. Today, Tigray is the scene of a humanitarian drama due to the Ethiopian desire to overthrow the TPLF. And to do this, the Prime Minister mobilized the loyal regular troops, as well as militias from neighboring regions or even law enforcement personnel from Eritrea.
A little over a year after his speech at the reception of his famous medal supposed to symbolize peace, has Abiy Ahmed changed that much? Or did the situation in Tigray require him to intervene with such a strike force? Or simply, was the committee which gave its Nobel Peace Prize to the Ethiopian Prime Minister wrong, blinded by the hopes carried in him? In any case, we cannot blame Ahmed for having done stop repression upon arrival. But ethnic and religious conflicts are frequent in Ethiopia. And this the Prime Minister may have simply underestimated.