Qeerroo ቄሮ – Group of the Year 2018
EP: “Hopefully, another promising year like 2018 awaits us as we turn the leaf for another eventful chapter of our life.”
31 Dec 2018 – Eritrean Press is delighted to announce that Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed is EP’s Person of the Year in 2018.
He is the person Eritrean Press followers think had the greatest influence on the events of the year. The Ethiopian reformist leader (pictured at Eritrea’s president residence) had dominated headlines in 2018 for the right reasons with his Eritrean counterpart Isaias Afwerki.
This year, the humble and likeable Abiy Ahmed won with a great majority out of the five nominees – the rest were Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, Tiffany Haddish, Team John Bolton and Eritrean political prisoner Berhane Abrehe.
The runner-up for this year’s Person of the Year is Isaias Afwerki.
EP’s Group of the Year won by the peaceful Qeerroo, young Oromo activists in Ethiopia that drove the mass strike that helped topple the TPLF led corrupt government.
THE RISE OF ABIY AHMED IN 2018
Pressured from Qeerroo, on 15 February 2018 the former Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn’s resignation triggered the first ever contested leadership election among EPRDF coalition members to replace him.
A lot of political observers made Lemma Megersa (the ODP Chairman) and Abiy Ahmed the front-runners to become the Leader of the ruling coalition and eventually Prime Minister of Ethiopia.
Despite being the clear favourite in the general public, Lemma Megersa was not a member of the national parliament, a pre-condition to becoming Prime Minister as requested by the Ethiopian constitution. Therefore, Lemma was excluded from the leadership race.
On 22 February 2018, Lemma’s party, ODP, called for an emergency executive committee meeting and replaced Lemma by Abiy as Chairman of ODP. Abiy had the advantage of being Member of Parliament in contrast to Lemma. A lot of observers saw that as a tactical move to promote Abiy to become Prime Minister.
On 1 March 2018, the 180 EPRDF executive committee members started their meeting to elect the Leader of the party. Each of the four parties sent in 45 members. The contest for the leadership was among Abiy Ahmed of ODP, Demeke Mekonnen, the Deputy Prime Minister and ADP leader, Shiferaw Shigute as Chairman of SEPDM and Debretsion Gebremichael as the Leader of TPLF. Despite being the overwhelming favourite by the majority of Ethiopians, Abiy faced major opposition from TPLF and SEPDM members during the leadership discussions.
On 27 March 2018, a few hours before the beginning of the leadership elections, Demeke Mekonnen, who had been seen as the major opponent to Abiy, dropped out of the race. Many observers saw this as an endorsement of Abiy Ahmed. Demeke was then approved as Deputy Prime Minister and got another term in that post. Following Demeke’s exit, Abiy received a presumably unanimous vote from both the ADP and ODP executive members, with 18 additional votes in a secret ballot coming from elsewhere. By midnight, Abiy Ahmed was declared Chairman of the ruling coalition in Ethiopia, the EPRDF, and was considered as the Prime Minister Designate of Ethiopia by receiving 108 votes while Shiferaw Shigute received 58 and Debretsion Gebremichael received 2 votes.
On 2 April 2018, Abiy was elected as Prime Minister of Ethiopia by the House of Representatives and sworn in and during his acceptance speech, he promised to reach out to the Eritrean government to resolve the ongoing Eritrean–Ethiopian border conflict after the Eritrean–Ethiopian War and to also reach out to the political opposition inside and outside of Ethiopia.
His acceptance speech sparked optimism and received an overwhelmingly positive reaction from the Ethiopian public including the opposition groups inside and outside Ethiopia. Following his speech, his popularity and support across the country reached a historical high and some political observers argued that Abiy was overwhelmingly more popular than the ruling party coalition, the EPRDF.
In June 2018 it was announced that the Ethiopian government had agreed to hand over the disputed border town of Badme to Eritrea, thereby complying with the terms of the 2000 Algiers Agreement to bring an end to the state of tension between Eritrea and Ethiopia that had persisted despite the end of hostilities during the Ethiopia-Eritrea War. Ethiopia had until then rejected the international boundary commission’s ruling awarding Badme to Eritrea, resulting in a frozen conflict (popularly termed a policy of “no war, but no peace”) between the two countries.
During the national celebration on 20 June 2018, the president of Eritrea, Isaias Afwerki, accepted the peace initiative put forward by Abiy and suggested that he would send a delegation to Addis Ababa. On 26 June 2018, Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh Mohammed visited Addis Ababa in the first Eritrean high-level delegation to Ethiopia in over two decades. Breaking protocol, PM Abiy received the Eritrean Foreign Minister at Bole International Airport.
In Asmara, on 8 July 2018, Abiy became the first Ethiopian leader to meet with an Eritrean counterpart in over two decades, in the 2018 Eritrea–Ethiopia summit. The very next day, the two signed a “Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship” declaring an end to tensions and agreeing, amongst other matters, to re-establish diplomatic relations; reopen direct telecommunication, road, and aviation links; and facilitate Ethiopian use of the ports of Massawa and Asseb.
Abiy met and married his wife, Zinash Tayachew, an Amhara woman from Gondar, while both were serving in the Ethiopian Defence Forces. They have three daughters together.
Abiy is multilingual and speaks Afaan Oromo, Amharic, Tigrinya, and English. He is a fitness aficionado and professes that physical health goes hand in hand with mental health and as such, he frequents physical and gym activities in Addis Ababa.
FINALLY, HAPPY 2019 TO OUR READERS!