Assessing Abiy Ahmed, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize

Assessing Abiy Ahmed, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize

Middle East and Africa

The 2019 Nobel Peace Prize

The record of Ethiopia’s prime minister remains incomplete, at home and abroad

ADDIS ABABA

THERE ARE two types of Nobel Peace Prize winner. The uncontroversial ones are often campaigners, such as Nadia Murad (who won last year for her work highlighting rape during war) or the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (which won in 2013). The controversial ones are often the politicians who actually negotiate peace deals—think of Yasser Arafat or F.W. de Klerk. Politics in violent places is a nasty, messy affair, and peace deals don’t always last. The award of the prize on October 11th to Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s prime minister, will spark more debate than most.

On the plus side, Abiy has tried hard to be a unifier since he took office last year. He often uses the Amharic word medemer (to add together) in speeches. Millions of Ethiopians have welcomed his promises of democracy, reconciliation and reform in a country that had long been oppressed.

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