Did Ethiopia’s Abiy get the Nobel Prize too soon?
In addition to sweeping political and economic reforms, Abiy released political prisoners and made a peace deal with neighbouring Eritrea, ending two decades of hostility. For this, he won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.
But under his government, protesters have been jailed, the internet has been blocked and a new law has just been passed that could jail people whose online posts stir unrest.
However, Lencho Bati, a senior adviser to the office of the prime minister, says the government of Abiy has done nothing wrong.
“All oppositions, armed and peaceful, are invited back, so the political space is wide and everybody is in the country, registering and campaigning,” Bati said.
Abiy’s tenure has also been plagued by ethnic conflict, with hundreds of thousands of people being internally displaced. Yet Bati says that the current government is not to blame.
“Ethiopian people used to live together peacefully. This is politically masterminded, agitated from behind in order to sabotage the reforms,” Bati said.
“The overthrown elites, the people who were enjoying privilege for 27 years, they want to make sure this process is sabotaged,” he added.
Perhaps the most radical of Abiy’s reforms is the dissolution of the governing coalition and the merging of several parties to form the Prosperity Party.
The Prosperity Party has its critics, among them, some of Abiy’s own allies: His own defence minister, Lemma Megersa, said the creation of the party is “not timely as there are many dangers”.
But Bati says the creation of the Prosperity Party is a positive move.
“Peace and stability is the burning issue, there is no question about that. The prime minister liberalised the political space, all oppositions are invited in, including those who are in armed struggle. Those who were in prison were released and now the political space is free,” Lencho said.
This week’s headliner is senior adviser to the office of the prime minister of Ethiopia, Lencho Bati.