Will Abiy Ahmed’s Nobel Prize Tilt Ethiopia’s Election?

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Will Abiy Ahmed’s Nobel Prize Tilt Ethiopia’s Election?

Western leaders long saw the authoritarian Meles Zenawi as an indispensable ally. Now, they’ve found a new hero in Abiy Ahmed. But is the Nobel Prize an effort to make amends or influence Ethiopia’s political future?

 The chairwoman of the Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize Committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen, poses with a picture of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in the Nobel Institute in Oslo on October 11, 2019. STIAN LYSBERG SOLUM/NTB SCANPIX/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

(foreignpolicy)–Abiy Ahmed took up the reins of government in Ethiopia at a time of profound strife, and through a serious of deft political gestures, including the release of thousands of political prisoners and overturning highly repressive restrictions on civil society and political groups, he probably averted a civil war.

His reforms may have been symbolic—critics have called them superficial—but there is no question that his leadership channeled the anger of the streets into a productive passion for reform, quelled protests, and thereby spared Ethiopia from a wave of unrest that many feared could have culminated in a bloodbath. For that, he certainly should be revered inside Ethiopia, and he deserves the recognition and gratitude of the Western powers, which were spared a nasty reckoning with the consequences of the disastrous regional policies they have pursued since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. 

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