From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Nothing much
Mains level : Nobel Peace Prize
The Norwegian Nobel Committee’ awarded this year’s Peace Prize to Abiy Ahmed, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia.
Reasons for the prize
- It is a recognition of his efforts for peace in East Africa.
- Mr. Abiy, became Prime Minister in April 2018 after his predecessor Hailemariam Desalegn resigned amid a political crisis and social unrest.
- He has taken steps to politically stabilise the country and establish peace on its borders.
- The committee recognised his “decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea”.
Conflict with Eritrea
- Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1991 and has fought a disastrous border war during 1998-2000 with its big neighbour.
- It 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 leading to a mass refugee outflow.
- Mr. Abiy 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.
Reforms at home
- He also initiated reforms at home, such as lifting the ban on opposition political parties, releasing political prisoners and jailed journalists and removing media curbs.
- Half of his Cabinet members are women and his government has welcomed the dissidents who were living in exile to return.
- Mr. Abiy, himself hailing from the Oromo ethnic group, persuaded the Oromo Liberation Front to join a wide-ranging peace process with the government.
- His 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 has loosened this grip and called for a pan-Ethiopian identity and a freer economy and polity.
- His reform agenda was challenged by ethno-nationalists both within and outside his party.
- His government remained a spectator when ethnic violence was unleashed in several parts of the country over the past year, and sub-nationalisms emerged stronger.
- The Oromia and Amhara regions remain tense. Ethnic Gedeos and Gujis are in conflict in the south. Earlier this year, at least 5,22,000 Ethiopians were displaced by ethnic conflicts.
- The country is set to go to elections next year. Many fear that violence could escalate.
Being a Nobel peace prize winner, he should come up with a national action plan to end violence, ease ethnic tensions and resettle the thousands displaced by the violence.