The Somali Diaspora Movement has taken an assertive step by initiating a petition to strip Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of his Nobel Peace Prize. The move, driven by concerns over Ahmed’s recent aggressive actions and the worsening crisis in the region, parallels a similar call by a group called Concerned Ethiopians and is perceived as a betrayal of the Nobel’s peace ethos.
The Nobel Peace Prize, awarded to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in 2019, recognized his initial efforts toward peace and reconciliation.
The strongly worded petition contends that the honour once given to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has been transformed “into a symbol associated with conflict rather than peace.” It accuses Ahmed of “egregiously infringing upon the independence, territorial integrity, and sovereignty of the Federal Government of Somalia.”
As of the time of writing, the petition on Change.org has resonated with the public, garnering nearly 12,000 signatures.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s shifting reputation stems from a series of controversial actions post-Nobel recognition. Initially hailed as a peacemaker, particularly for his role in resolving the long-standing border conflict with Eritrea, Ahmed’s more recent actions have painted a drastically different picture. His government’s involvement in the Tigray conflict and reported human rights violations have sparked outrage and drawn international criticism, leading to calls for the revocation of his Nobel Peace Prize. In a rare move in January 2022, the Norwegian Nobel Committee openly criticized Ahmed for his role in the Tigray conflict, noting that as a Nobel laureate, he bore a special responsibility to work towards ending the conflict and fostering peace.
Furthermore, the recent Ethiopia-Somaliland port deal has escalated tensions in the region. The agreement, granting Ethiopia access to a 20-kilometre stretch of the Red Sea coastline leased by Somaliland for 50 years, has been met with strong opposition from the Federal Government of Somalia, which views it as an infringement on its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The move has also raised concerns among neighbouring countries and international bodies about the potential for increased instability in the Horn of Africa.
Being landlocked and the second-most populous country in Africa, Ethiopia has long sought access to a seaport to bolster its economy and regional influence. However, its recent actions under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s leadership have led to a significant realignment of regional alliances and the reevaluation of its role on the international stage.
The situation is further complicated by the internal conflicts in Ethiopia, where ethnic tensions and political unrest continue to pose significant challenges to stability and governance.