Abiy Ahmed: Nobel Peace Laureate Who Faces Unrest at Home

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1987 ... January 29, 2020
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Abiy Ahmed: Nobel Peace Laureate Who Faces Unrest at Home

Nizar K. Visram

When the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, was in Oslo for the award ceremony, eyebrows were raised when he declined to attend any event where he would be asked questions in public. Organizers expected him to meet the international press in keeping with the Nobel tradition, but his spokeswoman cited "pressing domestic issues" and his "humble disposition."

The secretary of the Nobel committee, 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." He said the committee would "very much have wanted Abiy to engage with the press during his stay in Oslo."

Abiy is not the only Nobel laureate that failed to "engage with the press." The former US president Barrack Obama also declined to meet the press when he accepted the peace prize in 2009. Perhaps they were both avoiding one pertinent question: Was the decision to... award them the prize not taken prematurely and hastily?

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said Abiy Ahmed was awarded the prize for his "decisive initiative to resolve the long-running border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea." It extolled his "efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation."

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