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Insights into Editorial: Prize for peace: On Nobel for Ethiopia PM


Insights into Editorial: Prize for peace: On Nobel for Ethiopia PM


 

Introduction: List of Nobel Prize winners of this year:

Medicine: William Kaelin and Gregg Semenza of the US and Britain’s Peter Ratcliffe award this year for discoveries on how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability, paving the way for new cancer treatments.

Chemistry: John B Goodenough, Stanley Whittingham, and Akira Yoshino would receive this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing the lithium-ion batteries. These batteries are today used in everyday items; from mobile phones to remote controls and even electric vehicles.

Physics: Canadian-American cosmologist James Peebles and Swiss astronomers Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz would share this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics “for theoretical discoveries that have contributed to our understanding of how the Universe evolved after the Big Bang”.

Literature: Polish author Olga Tokarczuk and Austrian novelist Peter Handke would receive 2018 and 2019 Nobel Prize for Literature. The prize was postponed in 2018 after the academy was hit by a sexual assault scandal.

Peace: Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed would be given the Nobel Peace Prize this year for ending 20 years of hostility with neighbouring Eritrea.

Economics: Indian-American Abhijit Banerjee, his wife Esther Duflo, and Michael Kremer will share the Economics Nobel prize 2019 for their “experimental approach to alleviating global poverty“.

 

Context:

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded the 100th Nobel Peace Prize to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Dr Abiy Ahmed Ali, for “his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation” and for his “decisive initiative” to end the long-running military stalemate with neighbouring Eritrea.

By saving a nation of 108 million people from the precipice of an economic and political explosion, he captured the imagination of his own people and people across the African continent as an embodiment of hope and his messages of peace, tolerance, and love and understanding are being felt far beyond Ethiopia.

 

Political crisis and Social unrest in region of Horn of Africa:

Eritrea, which got independence from Ethiopia in 1991, has fought a disastrous border war during 1998-2000 with its big neighbour.

Its split thousands of families and killed about 80,000 people.

In Eritrea, the dictatorship used the prolonged border conflict as a convenient excuse for conscription and repression of its critics, which led to a mass refugee outflow.

The biggest challenge is to calm ethnic tensions in his conflict-ridden country.

Ethiopia is a multi-ethnic federation ruled by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front with a tight grip.

Mr. Abiy, immediately after assuming office, took steps to resume the stalled peace process. He led Ethiopia’s first state visit to Eritrea and met its President, Isaias Afwerki. Within days both countries declared the end of the border war.

 

Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali Achievements:

  • Abiy made sustainable peace at home and in the region one of his central domestic and foreign policy objectives.
  • He argued that a stable, peaceful and prosperous Ethiopia is inconceivable without the peace, stability and development of the wider Horn of Africa region.
  • He often preached about peace, forgiveness, reconciliation, unity, synergy and understanding.
  • He even established a cabinet-level ministry with a mandate to build peace and national consensus and to oversee federal law enforcement organs, including the country’s security and intelligence agencies.
  • At the regional level, he initiated an economic integration plan, a programme that aims to link the Horn of Africa region through joint investment in infrastructure and economically vital strategic assets with the aim of making nations and communities in the region frontline stakeholders in peace and stability.
  • In the process, he captured the imagination of Ethiopians and other people in the region.
  • While his domestic achievements were an important part of the picture, Abiy won the prize, in the words of the Nobel Committee, “for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea”.

 

Ethiopia: Need for Peace Building Efforts:

  • The Horn of Africa is still one of the most volatile and unstable corners of the world.
  • Peacebuilding there demands the establishment of comprehensive structures and institutions that involve all stakeholders, and a policy-level alignment, coordination, resource mobilisation and coherence among regional actors.
  • Ethiopia is the most powerful and geopolitically significant country in the region and there is a considerable expectation of it to play a role befitting of this.
  • Hence for Abiy, with the Nobel Peace Prize comes great responsibility. He will be expected to use this honour as a tool to bolster his peacebuilding efforts.
  • The government has established a peace and reconciliation commission tasked with dealing with the past and helping the country move forward.
  • The country has one of the world’s few “gender-balanced” Cabinets and a female president, a rarity in Africa.
  • And for the first time, Ethiopia had no journalists in prison, media groups noted last year.
  • A statement from Prime Minister Ahmed’s office said that since taking office in 2018 he has made “peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation essential elements of his administration”.
  • Domestic process of peace making and reform has been difficult and contentious.
  • The transition has been characterized by populist and deeply polarizing identity politics, with claims of grievance and demonization of ethnic competitors dominating narratives.

 

Conclusion: National reconciliation for any Country:

To achieve this and secure any future political settlement, Ethiopia needs true peace.

In a democratising empire, true peace requires strengthening the rule of law, reforming the security and justice sector, managing the present and planning for the future.

Most importantly, true peace requires reconciliation and healing.

Without a programme of national reconciliation, healing and peacebuilding that is credible, legitimate and has significant public support, it is very difficult to bring the country together around a common and inclusive vision for the future.

And true peace requires confronting the country’s contested past, repairing social tissues, mending deep fissures, and healing individual and collective traumas inflicted by decades of repressive rule.

It requires overcoming the complex and multidimensional social and political cleavages that divide the county along a binary line and instituting a more equitable, fair and sustainable dispensation.