- In April 2018, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) appointed Abiy Ahmed as Prime Minister (PM) of Ethiopia, a position for which he has yet to be elected to.
- With multiple forms of protests and conflicts leading to his nomination, Ethiopians and the international community hoped Abiy would be the “peace maker” that Ethiopia needed at a critical juncture.
- Two years into power, Aiby has become the face of Ethiopia’s undoing.
- Under his leadership, Ethiopia is seeing unprecedented levels of instability and chaos, characterized by widespread ethnic tension and violence.
- Abiy waged a still on-going genocidal war against the Ethiopian region of Tigray on November 4, 2020. The war has devastated both the country and the region.
- Abiy’s political gambling has drastically reversed the country’s economic development and democratization process.
- “A war against the member of the federation is an epic tragedy…Abiy’s failed nation-building project has now morphed into a civil war.” —Tsedale Lemma, Editor in Chief of Addis Standard.
Amid Abiy’s Personal and Political Life
- Abiy’s personal and professional backgrounds are at odds with the tragedies he has caused.
- Abiy is from Beshasha, Oromia. He is believed to be the son of an Amhara Christian mother and Oromo Muslim father. He is multilingual, speaking three of Ethiopia’s languages – Amharic, Oromifa, and Tigrigna.
- He received a masters degree in “Transformational Leadership” in 2011, and a doctorate from the Institute for Peace and Security Studies of Addis Ababa University in 2017.
- Prior to being nominated to be the PM of Ethiopia in 2018, Abiy held different positions under the EPRDF, the party that founded Ethiopia’s multi-national federal system.
- Abiy rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel during the war with Eritrea (1998-2000) and he has served as head of Ethiopia’s Information Network Security Agency.
- Prior to being nominated for the PM role, Abiy hastily replaced Lemma Megerssa as the chair of the Oromo Democratic Party (OPDO) in an emergency meeting , in anticipation of being chairperson of EPRDF.
Dramatic Misleading Reforms Soon after Being Nominated as the PM
- Abiy focused largely on artificial political reforms to rebrand the EPRDF. He immediately began working on making amends with protestors and oppositionists.
- He apologized for the killings of protesters by government forces.
- He lifted the ban on opposition groups and pardoned one of the country’s most high-profile political prisoners.
- He lifted the state of emergency, originally put in place in 2016.
- He granted equal representation to women in the government’s ministerial roles.
- He reestablished bilateral relations with Eritrea, agreeing to give up the disputed border town of Badme.
- In December 2019, Abiy formed a new party: Prosperity Party (PP); and Tigray’s regional government, the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), questioned the constitutionality of the party. Abiy saw this as a threat to his authority.
- The PP was to be unlike the EPRDF. “The PP was not going to be the direct representative of any particular ethnic group. Instead, it will try to be an all-encompassing national party that speaks for the entire Ethiopian people.” —Awol Allo, Aljazeera, December 2019.
A New Oppressor with a Nobel Peace Prize
- In 2019, Abiy was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize largely for his efforts at building peace with Eritrea.
- The Nobel Peace Prize committee failed to see Abiy’s true intentions in cementing a relationship with Eritrean dictator Isaias. Both had a common enemy – the TPLF. Abiy saw the TPLF as an obstacle in his pursuit to consolidate power under a new party, while dictator Isaias had grievances from the 1998 border war with Ethiopia.
- The TPLF, though, has not been Abiy’s only challenge. Since he became a Nobel laureate, hundreds of Ethiopians have died either at the hands of security forces or in violence that has erupted between Ethiopia’s diverse ethnic groups.
- Thousands of anti-government protesters, opposition activists and politicians have been arrested amid claims that Abiy’s government is denying them their right for greater autonomy from the central government.
- There have been multiple high-level assassinations of government officials and celebrities seen as obstacles to Abiy’s power consolidation.
Abiy Wages a Genocidal War on Tigray
- Prior to officially waging the war on Tigray, Abiy took steps to weaken Tigray. He allowed road blockades to Tigray, reduced Tigray’s budget, and hindered the fight against locust infestation.
- On November 4, 2020, Abiy accused the TPLF of starting the war by attacking federal troops at a base in Tigray. However, political analysts and diplomats in the region have confirmed that there were evident signs of preparations to attack the TPLF prior to November 2020.
- Abiy had initially called the war on Tigray a domestic “law-and-order operation” that would not last more than 5 days, but it involved large deployments of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces and Eritrean forces, Amhara militia, and aerial bombardments—a far cry from a domestic law enforcement operation.
- Four months into the war, the world has learned that this was a full blown war that is far from over.
- To the international community’s surprise, this Nobel Peace Prize winner has rejected international pressure for dialogue.
The War on Tigray and Evident War Crimes
- Since the war began, journalists have been banned, aid agencies have had restricted access (80 percent of Tigray’s population still remaining accessible today), internet services have been completely down, and telephone services have been mostly cut off, with sporadic connectivity across Tigray.
- Over 60,000 Tigrayans have fled into Sudan, over 500,000 Tigrayans are internally displaced, and 4.5 million Tigrayans are at risk of starvation.
- In waging a genocidal war on Tigray, PM Abiy has committed numerous war crimes with his Eritrean dictator ally. These war crimes include:
- Sealing off the region and not allowing humanitarian aid into Tigray
- Allowing Ethiopian and Eritrean military forces to massacre, bomb, and rape civilians
- Allowing Ethiopian and Eritrean forces to destroy and loot Tigray’s infrastructure, including schools, hospitals, markets, religious places, and government offices
- Allowing Eritrean forces to destroy refugee camps that housed Eritreans in Tigray
Abiy Ahmed is No Peace Maker
- The hope that many had for a democratized Ethiopia under Abiy’s leadership has been squandered by the genocidal war on Tigray and continued violence against other Ethiopians who oppose Abiy’s hegemonic political system.
- With the help of Eritrea, Abiy has been working to dismantle the social, political, and economic structures within Tigray. He has opposed any international mediation efforts. He is no peace maker.