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Norway: Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed will not be interviewed when he comes to Norway to receive the Nobel Peace Prize

NordenBladet –  This year’s Peace Prize* winner will not meet the press in Oslo. “The traditional press conference with the Nobel Prize winner has been removed from the program this year. With few exceptions, this has not happened since the early 1990s, when press conferences became a permanent entry on the Nobel program,” says Nobel director Olav Njølstad to NTB.

According to Njølstad, the press conference will not happen because Ahmed arrives late in the afternoon of December 9, the day before the Nobel ceremony itself. But the Peace Prize winner has also said no to interviews with NRK, the BBC and Al Jazeera.

“Whatever reasons lie behind this, you will have to ask his press spokesperson,” says the Nobel director.

A large international press turnout is usually present at the awards ceremony. This year, two journalists from Ethiopia are currently accredited. In addition, Ethiopians in exile may have applied for accreditation from news media in other countries, according to Njølstad

Abiy Ahmed received the Peace Prize because in his first half as prime minister he managed to make peace with neighboring Eritrea after decades of conflict and accelerated democratization in Ethiopia.

But since then, nothing has happened, according to professor and Ethiopia expert Kjetil Tronvoll. “He doesn’t have much to brag about after his first six months,” he says.

During the past six months, the Eritrea process has stalled, while unrest in Ethiopia has risen to new heights. “There are great tensions in Ethiopia, as great as it has hardly ever been,” says Tronvoll. “By not meeting the press, Ahmed avoids having to answer difficult questions about the peace process, about the unrest in Ethiopia and what the growing fragmentation in Ahmed’s own party could entail,” he points out.

“The most important thing is that ordinary Ethiopians now feel an increasing degree of insecurity and uncertainty. They do not trust that the state is strong enough to secure them,” says Tronvoll.

In late October, just weeks after the Abiy Ahmed Peace Prize was announced, about 70 people were killed in turmoil in the capital, Addis Ababa and the Oromia region. Ahmed himself is from the Oromo people group, Ethiopia’s largest, and it was these who brought him to power in 2018.

But now well-known Oromo activists have turned to Ahmed, who will resolve the tensions in the country by lifting ethnic divides and establishing a new national identity.

“Ethiopia is deeply divided between those who want unity and those who want ethnic autonomy. Many believe that Abiy now cuts off the branch he is sitting on. His power base is weathering with every passing day,” says Tronvoll.

In November, however, the prime minister managed to unite three of four ethnic-based parties in Ethiopia’s ruling coalition EPRDF into a new party with the belligerent name Prosperity Party.

But so far, the Tigray party TPLF, which ruled Ethiopia for 27 years, has given a thumbs down.

Elections will be held in Ethiopia, next May.

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* The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Swedish industrialist, inventor, and armaments manufacturer Alfred Nobel, along with the prizes in Chemistry, Physics, Physiology or Medicine, and Literature. Since March 1901, it has been awarded annually (with some exceptions) to those who have “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”.

Per Alfred Nobel’s will, the recipient is selected by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, a five-member committee appointed by the Parliament of Norway. Since 1990, the prize is awarded on 10 December in Oslo City Hall each year. The prize was formerly awarded in the Atrium of the University of Oslo Faculty of Law (1947–1989), the Norwegian Nobel Institute (1905–1946), and the Parliament (1901–1904).

Due to its political nature, the Nobel Peace Prize has, for most of its history, been the subject of numerous controversies.


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Abiy AhmedNobel Peace PrizeNorwayOsloPeace Prize

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