Nobel Peace Prize 2019 Winner Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali
— kibrom Eritrea (@kibrom19) October 19, 2019
Ethiopia’s Nobel-winning leader launches million-copy book
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopia’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning prime minister is launching a book of his ideology, with one million copies already printed.
Saturday’s launch again raised concerns among some in the East African nation that a cult of personality could spring up around Nobel Peace Prize winner Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who announced sweeping political reforms after taking office last year.
The book called “Medemer” aims at inclusivity and consensus in a country with scores of ethnic groups and a rising problem of ethnic unrest.
The book comes as the country faces a national election next year that Nobel Peace Prize winner Abiy has pledged will be free and fair.
Exhibitors in the capital, Addis Ababa, told The Associated Press they were forced out of a conference hall for the launch. “We were told to evacuate,” said Bethlehem Bahran, a communications director for the event.
Abiy’s book is launching both in Ethiopia and the United States, which has a large diaspora community.
The press secretary for the prime minister’s office, Nigussu Tilahun, told the AP no state money was involved in promoting the book.
“And all proceeds from the book will be used to build schools across Ethiopia,” he said.
The Nobel committee awarded the 43-year-old Abiy the prize for making peace with neighboring Eritrea and ending one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts, and for his political reforms.
“No doubt some people will think this year’s prize is being awarded too early,” the Nobel committee said. But “it is now that Abiy Ahmed’s efforts deserve recognition and need encouragement.”
Human rights groups and others have urged the prime minister to continue with reforms.
Nobel Peace Prize 2019 awarded to Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali
The Nobel Peace Prize for 2019 was awarded to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali of Ethiopia. He end his country’s two-decade border conflict with Eritrea. The Norwegian Nobel Institute also praised the “important reforms” that Abiy, Ethiopia’s leader since April 2018, has launched at home.
The Nobel committee acknowledged there was still much work to be done to see democracy thrive in Ethiopia. The Peace Prize would help him push further democratic reform.
“Prime Minister Abiy’s achievements have not been completed,” the committee said. “We recognize that it might be debatable whether it is too early or not… but the committee believes now is the time to recognize, and to encourage.”
Last year, Abiy and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki formally restored relations. They ending 20 years of enmity and severed ties between the East African nations. They signed agreements to open embassies in their respective capitals. Restore flight services and use port facilities in Eritrea. Citizens from both counties immediately began phoning each other to get back in touch.
Guterres said Abiy was “one of the main reasons” he believes the “winds of hope are blowing ever stronger across Africa.”
“His vision helped Ethiopia and Eritrea achieve a historic rapprochement,” Guterres said. “Prime Minister Ahmed’s leadership has set a wonderful example for others in and beyond Africa looking to overcome resistance from the past and put people first.”
At home, Abiy has offered one political surprise after another. He released tens of thousands of prisoners and welcomed home once-banned opposition groups and acknowledged past abuses. People expressed themselves freely on social media, and he announced that Ethiopia would hold free and fair elections in 2020. Media groups noted last year that for the first time, Ethiopia had no journalists in prison.
The new prime minister also announced the opening-up of Ethiopia’s tightly controlled economy, saying private investment would be welcome in major state-owned sectors.
Abiy now faces pressure to uphold the sweeping freedoms he introduced, and critics warn that his ability to deal with rising domestic unrest may be slipping.
Ethiopia is facing rising ethnic tensions, as people once stifled by repression now act on long-held grievances. Some 1,200 people have been killed and some 1.2 million displaced in the greatest challenge yet to Abiy’s rule.
Amnesty International secretary Kumi Naidoo said the award should “push and motivate (Abiy) to tackle the outstanding human rights challenges.