FAO award to Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed continued to get opposition from Ethiopians living abroad. Too risky for those who live in Ethiopia to do the same
Toronto – The relationship between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Ethiopians has entered a different stage for several years now. Initially, Abiy Ahmed sold himself to Ethiopians as a reformer and progressive with the mission to reunite the country and usher it to prosperity. For that reason he got the support of Ethiopians in the country and abroad. During a rally organized in June 2018 at Meskel square in support of him, dozens were wounded when attempting to protect Abiy from what was said an “orchestrated attack on his life.” Some died and many remained disabled. The support he got in the diaspora was not different. He was drawing a huge crowd wherever he went. Many say no Ethiopian leader in history got the support of Ethiopians like Abiy Ahmed.
All that political capital is lost ,irreparably, after Abiy Ahmed proved to be to incompetent or unwilling to deliver the changes he promised. The suffering and number of deaths Ethiopia has seen under his administration is said to be unprecedented. Security is in a state of crisis in the country to the point that Ethiopians consider it risky to travel a few kilometers outside of the capital Addis Ababa by bus. For that matter residents of Addis Ababa are not content about the security situation in the country.
On the economic front, Ethiopia’s state of affairs is worse that it was. With unprecedented inflation that left millions unable to feed their family even once a day, his government failed to make a $33 million payment on its debt, causing Ethiopia to default for the first time in its history. On the other hand, his government has been spending on prestige projects including on a $15 billion luxury palace whose source of finance he refused to disclose during a speech at the Ethiopian parliament. In the meantime, reports coming from Tigray and Amhara regions of Ethiopia indicate millions are facing a famine-like situation. But his government denies that there is no hunger like situation in the country.
It is in this situation , and as Abiy Ahmed’s legitimacy crisis is soaring, that FAO last week awarded Abiy Ahmed with what it called “prestigious FAO Agricola Medal. ” While his political cadres have been celebrating it, Ethiopians are outraged given Abiy Ahmed’s dismal record in the country. Several open letters have been sent to the FAO director general.
The protest against the award is getting stronger. This week, Unity For Ethiopia- an Ethiopian entity based abroad, launched an online campaign to have the award revoked. Thousands have already signed the petition on change.org
“We, a collective of concerned individuals, scholars, human rights advocates as well as Diaspora-based civil society organizations are writing to express our profound shock and disappointment concerning the Agricola Award honoring Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia at a time when more than 20 million Ethiopians are suffering from conflict and drought induced hunger. This award diminishes FAO”s status and entails a lasting reputational risk for FAO and the UN system,” Unity For Ethiopia group said.
The problem that the organizers of the petition see with the award is that it “… diminishes the problems millions of Ethiopians face. The award conveys a false sense of food security in a country where millions are in dire need of humanitarian food aid. For the Ethiopian people it is also a cruel reminder of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize award to Prime minister Abiy Ahmed who went on to unleash unparallel [unparalleled] carnage in Ethiopia of more than one million lives.” The campaign page is available here
Abiy Ahmed’s administration has not yet responded to the mounting opposition.
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