Nobel Peace Prize: The Ball is in Dr Abiy Ahmed’s Court

Published on 15th October 2019

Congratulations to Dr Abiy Ahmed for joining the prestigious and illustrious list of Nobel Peace Prize winners that include, depending on your world view, the good, the bad and the ugly including: Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Barrack Obama, Mother Teresa, Mikhail Gorbachev, Anwar el-Sadat, Aung San Suu Kyi and Henry Kissinger, to mention but a few.

Dr Abiy Ahmed`s attempt to end the border conflict with Eritrea is cited as the decisive reason for awarding him the prestigious Prize. He made a “decisive imitative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea,” according the Norwegian Nobel Committee. The Committee also acknowledges other key players (President Isaias?) in the peace process: “the Prize is also meant to recognise all the stakeholders working for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia and the East and North-East African regimes.” 

Interestingly, will President Isaias continue to play ball given the fact that he is not a “Joint-Winner” as in previous similar cases, such as Sadat-Begin, Arafat-Rabin and Kensinger-Le Duc Tho? Hopefully, he will.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed received massive support upon his assumption to power. The prospect of peace with Eritrea meant a great deal, in particular for Tigrayans who were at the receiving end of the brunt of the calamitous economic, political, military and human adversities hence the ‘No-War, No-Peace’ stalemate. Unfortunately, the PM has wasted much of the domestic good-will and political capital by undermining the Federal Constitution resulting in massive political, economic and social upheavals that threaten regime failure.

The status of the peace process with the Eritrean Government is unclear. It sometimes appears to stall and lacks transparency. There will be valid arguments in the country and outside as to whether the PM deserves the Nobel Peace Prize as have been the cases with previous winners, but the debates are now academic and history.

Looking forward and positively, what matters most now is that as a Nobel Laureate, the PM has an added responsibility to:

·Advance the Ethio-Eritrean peace process to a satisfactory conclusion in proactive, just, participatory and transparent manner;

· Address the break-down of the rule-of-law;

. Release all political prisoners;

. Stop ethnic targeted conflicts; and

· Lead the country peacefully and democratically to the upcoming General Election in a manner that is free, fair and credible.

What is now in order is for the PM to live up to what is positively expected of the holders of the Nobel Peace Prize. Will it be a motivation and added responsibility to pursue positive and constructive nation-building, democratisation, and peace and development in Ethiopia, or a poisoned chalice or false consciousness that reinforces the PM’s current mistaken track that has unfortunately contributed to the existential crisis the country is in?

Will he repeat the fates and destinies of Gorbachev (Nation-state-failure), Anwar el-Sadat (Dependency), Aung San Suu Kyi (Ethnic cleansing and targeting), Kissinger (War crimes), or the examples of peace, reconciliation and justice exemplified by Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King?

Will he utilise the “international good-will” positively and constructively, or waste it as he has been doing mostly with the “domestic good-will” he had when he assumed power?

The jury is out, but the hope, wish and optimism is that the PM will seize the historic moment, reflect, re-set the button and change direction, in the knowledge of what matters decisively is the domestic, Ethiopian public opinion (the Ultimate Prize) and the peoples’ and country’s destiny.

Now, the ball is again in Dr Abiy’s Court.

By Makonnen Tesfaye.

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