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Nobel Peace laureate Abiy Ahmed given heroic reception in Addis Ababa

By East Africa correspondent , Garowe Online

ADDIS ABABA - When he disembarked from Ethiopian airline flight on Thursday, Abiy Ahmed for the first time delivered a Nobel Peace Prize to a country that is special in African history.

Unlike many Africa nations, Ethiopia remained uncolonized and is widely accepted as the center of culture and politics in the continent.

And Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, received thunderous reception in the streets of Addis Ababa, with thousands of his supporters lining along the streets to receive their hero.

Thursday's colorful events at Addis Ababa are a total contrast to Tuesday's ceremony in Oslo where he received the prize.

Eritreans waged protests in the streets of Oslo, holding placards written "Nobel Peace Prize is for concrete peace and not rhetoric" perhaps airing their dissatisfaction.

Although he has instigated radical progressive social-economic and geopolitical reforms in Ethiopia, Ahmed was ostensibly honored for signing a peace deal with Eritrea, ending decades of conflict.

Jubilant supporters chanted pro-reform songs across the streets, some holding placards written: "we have eventually done it".

"Nobel Peace Prize Winner @PMEthiopia Given Hero’s Welcome," tweeted Ethiopia's Addis Ababa Standard, citing Abiy's achievements.

Ahmed breached the Nobel Peace Committee's tradition by rejecting interviews with Norwegian media among other stakeholders.

The committee termed the decision "problematic" but the PM's office cited unrest back at home as the major reason behind his actions.

While receiving the award, Abiy said: "Today, Ethiopia is highly regarded for press freedom. It is no more oppression against journalists."

Noting tremendous political freedom, Abiy added: "We are creating an Ethiopia that is 2nd to none in its guarantee of freedoms of expression."

Facing uncertainty over escalating ethnic clashes which have leftover 100 dead, Ahmed is also under pressure to withdraw Non-AMISOM troops from Somalia.

Somalia's opposition accused Ethiopian of interfering with domestic affairs of the country, citing incidents at the Gedo region in Jubaland where the soldiers are said to have forcefully occupied.

The United States through Secretary to the State Mike Pompeo on Thursday hailed Ahmed as a peace envoy, adding that Washington DC will support such processes.

"Secretary Pompeo reiterated US support to Ethiopia's political and economic reforms. He also discussed the role of Ethiopia in promoting peace and security," a statement from Gedu Andargachew, the Foreign minister read.

Ahmed succeeded Hailemariam Desalegn in 2018. As part of his sweeping reforms, he has folded the ruling coalition EPRDF to a single party.

The country is set for polls in 2020, a move that has made Ahmed reach out to small communities for the purpose of inclusivity.


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