Ethiopia’s Abiy wins Nobel Peace Prize for ending Eritrea standoff

Abiy Ahmed won the prize for ending a border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. (File/AFP)
Updated 11 October 2019

Ethiopia’s Abiy wins Nobel Peace Prize for ending Eritrea standoff

  • The Peace laureate also receives a monetary prize, a medal and a diploma
  • The awards ceremony will be in Oslo

OSLO, Norway: Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his peacemaking efforts which ended two decades of hostility with longtime enemy Eritrea.
Though Africa’s youngest leader still faces big challenges, he has in under two years in power begun political and economic reforms that promise a better life for many in impoverished Ethiopia and restored ties with Eritrea that had been frozen since a 1998-2000 border war.
“We are proud as a nation,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement, hailing a “collective win for all Ethiopians, and a call to strengthen our resolve in making Ethiopia — the new horizon of hope — a prosperous nation for all.”
The Nobel Committee said Abiy had won the prestigious prize for “efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighboring Eritrea.”
It said the prize was meant to recognize “all the stakeholders working for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia and in the East and Northeast African regions.”
News of the award trickled slowly down to the streets of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. Bisrat Hadte, a 45-year-old businessman, said he was glad but the government still had much to do to improve daily life in the country of about 100 million.
“The prime minister also has to work on to improve the economy and drive down the cost of living,” he told Reuters.
The Nobel Committee’s decision appeared designed to encourage the peace process, echoing the 1994 peace prize shared by Israeli and Palestinian leaders and the 1993 award for moves toward reconciliation in South Africa, said Dan Smith, head of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

“It is a case of wanting a constructive intervention in the peace process ... to give leverage and encouragement,” he told Reuters.
“The challenge now is internal for Abiy Ahmed, with Ethiopia needing to deal with the consequences of long-term violence, including three million displaced people and the need for continuing the political process.”
Abiy had been bookmakers’ second favorite to win, behind the teenage Swedish climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg.

Challenges ahead for Abiy

Abiy, now 43, took office in April 2018 after the resignation of Hailemariam Desalegn following three years of street unrest.
From partial liberalization of the state-controlled economy to overhauling the security forces that had helped the ruling coalition maintain a tight grip on power since 1991, the promises have raised hopes in the country and abroad.
Abiy’s landmark achievement to date is securing peace with neighboring Eritrea.
What remains to be seen is whether Abiy — who joined the Ethiopian army in his teens and rose through the ruling EPRDF coalition over the past two decades — can reshape Ethiopia and open it up to the world from within the current system.
He faces resistance to change from vested interests within his coalition and the possibility that violence, including in June when a rogue state militia leader killed the region’s state president and other top level officials, could escalate.
Abiy also faces high expectations from young Ethiopians who want jobs, development, and opportunities.
“As an Ethiopian actually I am very happy that the prime minister won the Nobel peace prize,” said Desalegn Chane, president of the new National Movement of Amhara (NAMA) party told Reuters by phone.
“However, we still have legitimate concerns and grievances that Abiy needs to address. The political repression our people the Amhara have been suffering from has continued under Abiy.”
“Three of our party leaders are still in jail suspected of being the plotters of the June coup attempt but still haven’t been formally charged,” he said.
The Nobel Peace Prize will be presented in Oslo on Dec. 10, the anniversary of the death of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, who founded the awards in his 1895 will.


US lawmakers begin debating impeachment articles against Trump

Updated 12 December 2019

US lawmakers begin debating impeachment articles against Trump

  • Democrats spent much of the evening denouncing Trump’s conduct and shaming Republicans for defending him
  • If the House approves the charges, a trial would be the Senate’s “first order of business in January,” says Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

WASHINGTON: Democrats in the US House of Representatives moved closer on Wednesday to impeaching President Donald Trump as a key House committee began debating formal articles of impeachment that are expected to be brought to the House floor next week.
The House Judiciary Committee was meeting to consider the two articles, which accuse Trump of abusing his power by trying to force Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden and of obstructing Congress when lawmakers tried to look into the matter.
“If the president can first abuse his power and then stonewall all congressional requests for information, Congress cannot fulfill its duty to act as a check and balance against the executive (branch) — and the president becomes a dictator,” Representative Jerrold Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the Judiciary panel, said in opening remarks.
But the committee’s top Republican, Doug Collins, accused Democrats of being predisposed toward impeachment and argued that the evidence did not support it.
“You can’t make your case against the president because nothing happened,” Collins said.
Trump has denied wrongdoing and condemned the impeachment inquiry as a hoax. But Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal said his misconduct was in plain sight.
“The president was the first and best witness in this case. The president admitted to his wrongdoing and corrupt intent on national television,” Jayapal said. “The president is the smoking gun.”
Democrats spent much of the evening denouncing Trump’s conduct and shaming Republicans for defending him, while Republicans railed against what they see as a partisan and unjust inquiry.
“President Trump’s high crimes threaten our democracy,” said Democratic Representative Hank Johnson. “I’m a black man representing Georgia, born when Jim Crow was alive and well. To me the idea that elections can be undermined is not theoretical,” referring to the era of racial segregation.
Republican Jim Jordan contended the process was being driven by animus toward Trump and his allies.
“They don’t like us — that’s what this is about,” Jordan said. “They don’t like the president’s supporters, and they dislike us so much they’re willing to weaponize the government.”
The committee is expected to approve the charges sometime on Thursday. The full Democratic-led House is likely to follow suit next week, making Trump the third president in US history to be impeached.
Following the House vote, charges will go to the Senate for a trial. The Republican-led chamber is unlikely to vote to remove Trump from office.

QUICK TRIAL?
On Wednesday, the president and senior Republicans appeared to be coalescing around the idea of a shorter proceeding in that chamber.
After initially saying he wanted a full-blown, potentially lengthy trial in the Senate, Trump seemed to be leaning toward a streamlined affair that would allow him to move quickly past the threat to his presidency, two sources familiar with the situation said on Wednesday.
Trump’s new thinking could remove a potential source of friction with Senate Republicans, who appeared to balk at the idea of a long trial with witnesses.
But it was not yet clear whether Trump was ready to abandon his demand for witnesses, such as Biden, which would trigger demands from Democrats for high-profile Trump administration witnesses.
“I think as an American the best thing we can do is deep-six this thing,” a staunch Trump ally, Senator Lindsey Graham, told reporters on Wednesday.
Asked why he thought Republican senators were now talking about a short trial, possibly with no witnesses, Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said: “I think the answer is obvious. They want to move on because obviously they think more attention paid to this is not in their best interest in re-election.”
Democrats say Trump endangered the US Constitution, jeopardized national security and undermined the integrity of the 2020 election by pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a July 25 telephone call to investigate Biden, a former vice president and a leading contender for the Democratic nomination to face Trump in next year’s election.
The articles of impeachment unveiled on Tuesday do not draw on other, more contentious aspects of Trump’s tenure, such as his efforts to impede former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. Democratic lawmakers from more conservative districts had argued the focus should stay on Ukraine.
Many Democrats in those swing districts remain unsure how they will vote on impeachment, although with a 36-seat lead over Republicans in the House, passage is expected.
Trump will be on friendlier terrain in the Senate, where Democrats are not expected to pick up the 20 Republican votes they need at a minimum to drive the president from office.
If the House approves the charges, a trial would be the Senate’s “first order of business in January,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor on Wednesday.
McConnell, a close Trump ally, says no decision has been made over how to conduct the trial. Approving the rules will require agreement by the majority of the Senate’s 100 members