NAIROBI, KENYA – Ethiopians living in Kenya are happy their prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, received the Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize this year, but want him to stabilize and unite the country.
Berit Reiss-Andersen, of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, said the Ethiopian leader brought normalcy and hope to people.
“In Ethiopia, even if much work remains, Abiy Ahmed has initiated important reforms that gave many citizens hope for a better life and a brighter future,” she said.
Abiy, 43, came to power in April 2018, after months of mass protests aimed at the political elite of the ruling party.
After taking office, Abiy brought an end to Ethiopia’s hostilities with Eritrea and visited its capital city, Asmara. Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki returned the favor with a trip to Addis Ababa.
The Nobel Committee also recognized Abiy’s effort to bring political reform to the country and mediate disputes in Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya and Somalia.
“We are happy as Ethiopians, and also as Africans,” said Meseret Mengesha, an Ethiopian community leader living in Kenya. “I can say that this achievement is for Ethiopia as well as broader Africa. I am very happy for his achievement.”
Mengesha says Abiy has a vision for the continent.
“His vision is not only for Ethiopia, most of the time he is telling us that he has got a very big vision for the Eastern Africa, for Horn of Africa, as well as Africa. My expectation is he will do more than this,” Mengesha said.
Abiy has released political prisoners and apologized for previous government abuses.
Ashenafi Dureso fled Ethiopia in 2006 and currently lives in the Kakuma refugee camp in northern Kenya.
Dureso welcomes Abiy’s success, but wants his government to stabilize Ethiopia, where ethnic tensions have come to the surface in recent years.
“I need him to bring peace and stability in the country,” Dureso said. “There are unstable areas, the place I was born. Now some areas are under command post (military) in the Oromia region. I need him to lift that command post from people of Oromo, especially the southern and western part of the Oromia region. I need him to lift these things, those emergency state.”
Dureso does not plan to go to Ethiopia anytime soon, because he feels it’s not yet safe to return.
Abiy’s efforts have won him a lot of admirers, but political observers warn that individuals and communities unhappy with the changes are still a threat to the stability of the Horn of Africa nation.
Source: Voice of America