Ethiopia’s Nobel-winning leader launches million-copy book
By ELIAS MESERET
Saturday’s launch again raised concerns among some in the East African nation that a cult of personality could spring up around Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who announced sweeping political reforms after taking office last year.
The book called “Medemer” aims at inclusivity and consensus in a country with scores of ethnic groups and a rising problem of ethnic unrest.
The book comes as the country faces a national election next year that Abiy has pledged will be free and fair.
Exhibitors in the capital, Addis Ababa, told The Associated Press they were forced out of a conference hall for the launch. “We were told to evacuate,” said Bethlehem Bahran, a communications director for the event.
Abiy’s book is launching both in Ethiopia and the United States, which has a large diaspora community.
The press secretary for the prime minister’s office, Nigussu Tilahun, told the AP no state money was involved in promoting the book.
“And all proceeds from the book will be used to build schools across Ethiopia,” he said.
The Nobel committee awarded the 43-year-old Abiy the prize for making peace with neighboring Eritrea and ending one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts, and for his political reforms.
“No doubt some people will think this year’s prize is being awarded too early,” the Nobel committee said. But “it is now that Abiy Ahmed’s efforts deserve recognition and need encouragement.”
Human rights groups and others have urged the prime minister to continue with reforms and resist the urge to return to repressive controls of the past such as widespread arrests and internet shutdowns.