Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed: Inside the mind of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner

Abiy Ahmed

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The Nobel Committee praised Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s peace initiatives

Nobel Peace Prize winner Abiy Ahmed has shaken up Ethiopia since changing into prime minister in April final yr, however what concepts are guiding the person who receives the prize in Oslo on Tuesday? The BBC’s Kalkidan Yibeltal in Addis Ababa has been studying the e book that outlines his philosophy.

Medemer has turn out to be a buzzword in Ethiopia.

The Amharic language time period which accurately means “addition”, however can be translated as “coming collectively”, sums up what Prime Minister Abiy sees as a uniquely Ethiopian strategy to coping with the nation’s challenges.

And it has turn out to be exhausting to flee after the prime minister’s e book of the identical identify was launched in lavish ceremonies throughout Ethiopia in October, with a reported tons of of 1000’s of copies printed within the nation’s two most generally spoken languages – Amharic and Afaan Oromoo.

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Medemer was printed in each Amharic and Afaan Oromoo

Throughout 16 chapters and 280 pages he outlines his imaginative and prescient, which he says he has been nurturing since childhood.

Mr Abiy needs to foster a way of nationwide unity within the face of ethnic divisions, but additionally needs to have a good time that variety. His success in strolling this tight-rope will outline his time in energy.

What’s the essence of medemer?

On the coronary heart of the philosophy is the conviction that completely different, and even opposite, views will be introduced collectively and a compromise will be discovered. Additionally it is a rejection of dogmatism.

Since taking workplace, Mr Abiy has clearly departed from the way in which the nation was ruled for a lot of the final three a long time.

He has damaged from the hard-line safety state to encourage a extra liberal strategy to politics.

He has additionally stated that his predecessors’ makes an attempt to use Marxist and statist approaches to financial improvement failed as a result of they have been alien to Ethiopia.

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The Nobel Peace Prize announcement was massive information in Ethiopia in October

“We’d like a sovereign and Ethiopian philosophy that stems from Ethiopians’ fundamental character, that may resolve our issues… that may join all of us,” he writes in Medemer.

He argues that Ethiopian tradition values inclusion and cooperation.

Critics say that whereas this would possibly sound good, it doesn’t supply a sensible method ahead or a information about how that compromise will be discovered.

In April, political analyst Hilina Berhanu stated that whereas medemer was simply comprehensible and “served as a painkiller” for what went earlier than, it lacks the complexity wanted to map out the longer term.

Why Abiy gained the peace prize

  • His “decisive initiative to resolve the border battle with neighbouring Eritrea”
  • He initiated “essential reforms that give many voters hope for a greater life and a brighter future”
  • “He has additionally pledged to strengthen democracy”
  • He has “engaged in different peace and reconciliation processes” within the area

Supply: Nobel Committee

Has Nobel winner actually introduced peace to East Africa?

Why has Abiy developed this concept?

Mr Abiy started speaking about medemer lengthy earlier than he grew to become prime minister.

Serving in senior authorities positions, he used the time period whereas telling his colleagues the significance of bringing excessive opinions collectively and inspiring folks to work in concord.

As prime minister he has stated medemer can remedy lots of the woes ailing Africa’s second most populous nation, from poverty to lethal ethnic conflicts.

He has urged folks to return collectively beneath a shared imaginative and prescient relatively than be trapped by a historical past of ethnic and political division. In any other case, he has warned, the very existence of the state might be introduced into query.

What does it say about ethnicity in Ethiopia?

It’s considerably ironic that whereas the prime minister has spoken about unity, his political reforms have lifted the lid on simmering ethnic tensions within the nation.

Previously 20 months, ethnic violence has claimed the lives of 1000’s of individuals and compelled hundreds of thousands of others from their houses.

Extra about how Ethiopia has modified beneath Abiy:

Ethiopia’s federal structure, launched in 1995, created ethnically based mostly states. The association places a disproportionate emphasis on ethnic id and ignores different types of id like gender and financial class, Mr Abiy says.

However he additionally recognises that historic injustices towards some ethnic teams might be behind the elevated tensions.

In truth, the prime minister, who’s from the Oromo ethnic group, got here to energy on the again of a wave of protests from the Oromo neighborhood, who had complained of financial and political marginalisation.

Nonetheless, medemer requires ethnic teams to voluntarily come collectively in a union that celebrates and promotes variety. Mr Abiy argues that ethnic nationalism can go hand in hand with what he calls “civic nationalism”, which focuses on particular person rights.

How this could occur virtually is tougher to see.

However in current months, the prime minister has spearheaded the transformation of the nation’s ethnically based mostly governing coalition right into a single social gathering. In an indication of how exhausting medemer is likely to be to attain in practise, this transfer was instantly rejected by some teams.

  • Why Ethiopia has a brand new ruling social gathering

Are folks satisfied?

In October, in a vivid signal that not everybody buys into Mr Abiy’s imaginative and prescient for Ethiopia, some protesters burnt copies of his e book, shouting “down, down, medemer”.

These have been younger Oromos, who feared that their pursuits might be ignored as soon as once more if nationwide unity is promoted on the expense of ethnic pursuits.

The management of the once-dominant Tigrayan Folks’s Liberation Entrance (TPLF) have described the prime minister’s philosophy as vague. The TPLF has refused to hitch Mr Abiy’s new merged social gathering.

Nonetheless, Mr Abiy is satisfied it can assist the nation flourish and lots of supporters say it can construct bridges in a rustic that’s deeply divided alongside ethnic and spiritual traces.

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