EU diplomat describes Abiy Ahmed as a ‘dog’ in sheep’s clothing

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed |Illustration Nicklas Elmehed

Nov 27, 2020 (Thessherald)–Speaking during a plenary debate on the ongoing situation in the Tigray region, a member of the European Parliament, Assita Kanko, has said that the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, the country’s first Novel Peace Prize laureate, has become a wolf in sheep’s clothing and must be stripped of his award as a punishment for plunging the country into turmoil.

The top European Union official stressed that the Ethiopian leader, Abiy, is no longer a symbol of peace and unity in Ethiopia and the entire Horn of Africa, but rather a dictator who wants to cling to power by means of violence.

“The situation in Ethiopia is urgent, the country’s grip on peace is slipping with every passing day. Its leader, Abiy Ahmed, has a Nobel Peace Prize but he is refusing to pursue peace in his own country, I believe he should give that back. He is being a ‘wolf‘ in sheep’s clothing, a reformer turned authoritarian.”

Kanko explains that the situation in the Tigray region has gone from bad to worse with disturbing reports of ethnic profiling, lack of access to basic services since the government shut down telecoms, internet, banks and blew up electricity in the capital, Mekelle.

“In the Tigray region, hundreds are already dead with ethnic targeted violence and serious violations of human rights. Buildings and homes are shelled and roads are blocked to humanitarian assistance. There are no telecoms, no internet or electricity and millions face the threat of famine in a country once was a stabilizing factor and influence in a fragile region and a pivotal force in the fight against Islamic terrorism.”

She pointed out that if the situation is not ended urgently by imposing an internationally mediated peace, it would lead to a catastrophic humanitarian situation that will end up forcing hundreds of Ethiopians to make their way to Europe.

“Tens of thousands of Ethiopians now cross the border to Eastern Sudan, seeking safety. Progress and development in Ethiopia was hard-won. We must do all we can to prevent that progress from being lost forever. A looming civil war could destabilise the whole region and trigger another humanitarian crisis that could reach the shores of Europe.”

“We must continue to call for international meditation and a ceasefire, as you have done this week Mr. Borrell. But I would also stress that rarely does a crocodile yield to the roar of a toothless tiger.”

Adding that, “The European Union provides large amounts of development assistance to Ethiopia, and we should consider using this and all available leverages to help de-escalate the conflict in the Tigray region. Time is running out to salvage the situation and forge a path to free, fair and transparent elections and ultimately to democracy.“

“Nothing short of our most determined and resolute efforts is needed,” she added.

Since last week, the international community has expressed grave concern after the federal government announced that there will be a tank-to-tank battle inside the capital, Mekelle, with thousands of people have been trapped without escape routes.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Trades His Nobel Peace Prize for Civil War

Portrait of Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed | Illustration: Niklas Elmehed.

Opinion | By Bobby Ghosh

Nov 19, 2020 (Thessherald)–We may be long past holding laureates of the Nobel Peace Prize to its lofty standards – the cruel cynicism of Henry Kissinger and open bigotry of Aung San Suu Kyi are just two instances of honorees behaving dishonorable – but Abiy Ahmed’s belly flop from the pedestal is nonetheless remarkable.

In less than a year since his uplift in Oslo, Ethiopia’s prime minister has embroiled his country in a civil war and brought the Horn of Africa to the edge of chaos.

If Abiy cannot pull back from the precipice, his confrontation with the leadership of the northern region of Tigray will reverse the gains from years of growth and investment that have made Ethiopia’s economy the envy of the continent. Long-simmering tensions between the central government and the Tigrayans, a minority ethnic group that once dominated Ethiopian politics, have boiled over. In early November, Abiy ordered government forces to attack the restive northern region of Tigray, blaming its leaders for a strike on an army base.

As the fighting has escalated, Abiy and Debretsion Gebremichael, president of the Tigray region, have painted themselves into opposite corners. The prime minister has vowed not to stand down his forces until all weapons in Tigrayan hands have been destroyed. He is resisting international calls for mediation. Debretsion has boasted that his fighters, thought to be 250,000-strong, “cannot be beaten.”

For all his promises of a swift victory, Abiy now faces a protracted civil war that could suck in other ethnic groups — or, to quote from his acceptance speech in Oslo last December, “brothers slaughtering brothers on the battlefield.”

The death toll is in the hundreds and rising fast. There have been reports of war crimes against non-Tigrayans in the north, and political score-settling against Tigrayans in Addis Ababa. United Nations officials warn that “the risk of atrocity crimes” is growing.

The conflict has already spilled over Ethiopia’s borders, and thousands have fled the fighting into neighboring Sudan. Debretsion has accused another neighbor, Eritrea, of joining forces with the Ethiopian military, and has launched rockets at the Eritrean capital of Asmara.

There are also dangerous consequences for a third neighbor: To strengthen his forces against the Tigrayans, Abiy has withdrawn thousands of Ethiopian peacekeepers from Somalia, where they were fighting an Islamist insurgency. This diversion comes even as the Trump administration is contemplating a drawdown of forces from Somalia.

Hopes for stability and prosperity in the Horn of Africa rest substantially on Ethiopia’s ability to maintain internal equilibrium, keep peace with its neighbors and act as the region’s economic engine. The first of these challenges was always going to be the hardest. Abiy’s appointment in 2018 ended three decades of rule by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. (The prime minister is from the Oromo, the largest ethnic group.)

It was inevitable that Abiy’s political and economic reforms would reduce Tigrayan influence, and just as inevitable that the northerners would receive this poorly. But they are not the only ethnic group feeling hard done by: The Amhara and Somali — second- and third-largest — have grievances of their own. And over the summer, Oromo anger over the murder of a popular singer led to violence.

The prime minister responded by imposing authoritarian restrictions and jailing political opponents and journalists. Whether general elections, scheduled for late August but postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, would have deepened the ethno-political divide or given Abiy a national mandate to rule is an open question.

The Tigrayans went ahead with regional elections, which Addis Ababa dismissed as invalid. But the high turnout gave the regional government more credibility than the prime minister can muster, and it strengthened Tigrayan demands for greater autonomy — a direct challenge to Abiy, who wants greater authority for the central government.

With other regions closely following the outcome of the confrontation, the prime minister will be loath to show leniency. Reports suggest his government has sacked or suspended scores of Tigrayans from positions in the bureaucracy and military. This purging will likely deepen the northerners’ determination to fight on, and force the Nobel laureate even further into ignobleness.

Bobby Ghosh is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He writes on foreign affairs, with a special focus on the Middle East and Africa.

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Originally Published By the Bloomberg

Open letter to President Uhuru Kenyatta

Opinion | By Mary Nyibol Maker

August 23, 2020 (Thessherald)–Thank you Mr. President, Uhuru Kenyatta for your unwavering support for peace to reign in my country, South Sudan. Indeed, some of us who lived and grew up in Kenya will always see Kenya as our second home regardless of whether South Sudan is peaceful or not. We are grateful for the hospitality given to us who found Kenya as a home.

However, coming to the painful reality of our nation with our leader’s malnourished leadership, I am sorry to say that your commending the parties has not been convincingly refuted.

Here’s why I say so;
Firstly, these leaders, both claim to have partaken in the arm struggle for freedom from the North (far enough they did and we’re grateful), hence, they should know what it took them to gain Independence in their country. And if anyone should be more concerned about the suffering of the people of South Sudan, it should be them, because they tasted the pains, suffering and agony of having to live a slavery life.

Secondly, our leaders started off by fooling the majority that the problem was between the tribes, which they succeeded in as they butchered thousands of innocent lives in Juba in 2013 and 2016. They thought that people were going to remain blindfolded and continue to follow blindly.

No! What was the truth started emerging and now, it’s apparent that the problem has never been tribes but greed, corruption, deceits, illiteracy and lack of leadership traits. All their dirty laundry commenced coming out when they started killing innocent, educated civilians who tried to raise concerns for what they saw.

Thirdly, the people of South Sudan have been and continue to suffer grossly from all sorts of pandemic, i.e. hunger pandemic, unknown gunmen pandemic(horrible), corruption pandemic, greed pandemic, nepotism pandemic, simple diseases that shouldn’t be killing our people but they are pandemic, poverty pandemic, illiteracy pandemic, sexual abuse(rape and molestation) pandemic, tribalism pandemic and hatred pandemic. Our people are at the verge of loosing hope! Some have actually lost it.

Fourthly, Mr. President, let me ask you a question, say for instance, communal clashes/conflicts broke out in the counties surrounding Kenya, for example, Turkana, Machakos, Kiambu or even Narok county, would you have sat back and not worry about them killing themselves? Wouldn’t you have swiftly come up with a strategy to end the clashes so that you can save people’s lives and also save your country’s reputation?

Fifthly, Mr. President, the peace progress has been very slow, as slow as a snail, unfortunately! In a country full of problems like South Sudan, a real leader will not find rest till he or she has found a solution to the problems the country is facing. The fact that the parties took their time to appoint the governors shows that they care less about the people they’re leading. They do not give a dime whatsoever whether people are dying of hunger, sicknesses or in communal conflicts. It means that what they’re there for is nothing but their personal gains, be it power or wealth, fame or pride. Period! If they truly cared about their people, for instance, they would’ve been more proactive with their actions, the armies wouldn’t be going for more than 7 months without pay, they wouldn’t be keeping silent after hearing what’s called “unknown gunmen”, a matter of fact, they wouldn’t be going from country to country, involving and being sat down by other men who are just like them, to lecture them on what to do to make their country a better country. No! Not unless something is wrong upstairs!

Finally, Mr. President, the people of South Sudan are tired! They’re exhausted! They’ve had enough! They need nothing but genuine peace so that they can go about doing their daily activities for themselves and their families. Nothing else! Security is what they need so that they can move freely without the fear of someone gunning you down without a reason. They want freedom of speech so that people are not hunted down and killed by the “unknown gunmen” simply because you have criticized the government. They need the basic necessities like infrastructures, health facilities and institutions founded for educational, religious, professional and social purpose.

Please tell our leaders that you’re no different from them. The brain you have is what they have. You’re leading a country with people and so are they! If they say that they don’t know how to resolve their conflicts, well, how did Kenya resolve theirs? They can simply copy from you Mzee Uhuru and paste it mbiyo mbiyo kwetu so that tuwe na Amani.

Mwisho Kabisa, sisi wananchi wa South Sudan, tumeshukuru kila mtu ambaye ametia bidii kuleta amani kwetu. Tunawashukuru na Mungu awabariki sana . Asante sana Mkuu wa Kenya.

The author is a South Sudanese human rights defender and currently resides abroad, she can be reached via an email: