Abiy ‘Represents a new Generation of African Leaders’

ADDIS ABEBA – Chairperson of the Nobel Committee says Ethiopia’s Prime Minister represents a new generation of African leaders who believe in solving conflicts peacefully on a day he received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Abiy was awarded the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize in October for his role in ending the 20-year war between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
He is also being recognized for brokering peace in ongoing disputes in some other East African countries, Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, said in her speech before presenting Abiy with the medal on Tuesday.
“You have demonstrated an understanding that peace among neighbors is essential in a troubled region. You have made common cause with all the stakeholders from Eritrea, Djibouti, Sudan, South Sudan, and Kenya who have participated in promoting mediation and peaceful resolution,” she said.

Reiss-Andersen said that he represented a “new generation of African leaders who realize that conflict must be resolved by peaceful means”.

‘Peace is a labor of love’

Upon collecting the Nobel Peace Prize, Abiy appealed for unity after ethnic violence flares in parts of Ethiopia and reconciliation efforts with neighboring former foe Eritrea have stalled.

He has spoken movingly about his experiences during the Ethiopia-Eritrea war as he accepted the Peace Prize, and told the audience of dignitaries that he was a soldier in the countries’ 1998-2000 border war.

He said his entire unit was wiped out in an artillery attack on the town of Badme – the flashpoint for the war. “War is the epitome of hell for all involved,” he said in his Nobel lecture in the Norwegian capital on Tuesday.

This inspired him to argue that “the imaginary wall needed to be torn down and replaced by a bridge of friendship”. He also praised his Eritrean counterpart President Isaias Afwerki for being a partner in the process.

“Peace is a labor of love,” he said and warned that “sustaining peace is hard work. It takes a few to make war, but it takes a village and a nation to build peace.”

“There is no us and them. There is only us, for we are all bound by a shared destiny of love, forgiveness and reconciliation.”

Turning to the source of potential unrest he said that “the evangelists of hate and division are wreaking havoc in our society using social media. They are preaching the gospel of revenge and retribution on the airwaves.”

He also spoke about respecting human rights in Ethiopia and beyond, adding that the “young men and women [of Africa] are crying out for social and economic justice”.

By Agencies

 Minister Abiy and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Abiy (R) receives the Nobel Peace Prize from Reiss-Andersen (L), chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, during a ceremony at the city hall in Oslo on December 10, 2019. [Photo PMEthiopia]