Photo Credit: Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Sworn in For 5 More Years

The news comes as the PM says the almost year-long conflict in Tigray, "has made us pay a heavy price."

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was sworn in for a second five-year term on Monday, continuing his controversial ruling over the war-torn East African country. All eyes have been on Ahmed and the crisis in Ethiopia, in what the United Nation's humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths described as, "a stain on our conscience."

The Prime Minister describes the opposing forces as "hateful" towards the nation, while other African leaders have pressed the Nobel Peace Prize winner to have a better hold on the situation.

While speaking to a crowd in the capital, Addis Ababa, Ahmed says the conflict in Tigray, "has made us pay a heavy price," and responded to international demand and criticism with, "there are those who showed us their true friendship and those who betrayed us." Signs bearing the words "New Beginnings" were seen across the capital ahead of Monday's ceremony.

Abiy's Prosperity Party was declared as the victor of the parliamentary elections held earlier this year, winning 410 of the 436 parliamentary seats that were contested. The win was condemned and rejected by opposition parties, but described by outside electoral observers as better run than those Ethiopia has experienced in the past. Ahmed won his Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for restoring ties with neighboring country Eritrea, and for admirable political reforms. He now faces similar challenges in his own country as the civil war, an evergrowing famine, and watchdogs warn that repressive government practices are on the return.

The almost year-long war has wreaked havoc on Ethiopia's economy and reputation and threatens to isolate Abiy, who was once considered a regional peacemaker. Last week, the Ethiopian government faced condemnation from the United Nations, United States, and several European nations after it suddenly removed seven U.N. officials accused of supporting the Tigray forces who have been battling Ethiopian and allied forces.

The Prime Minister says that the country will start an "inclusive national dialogue that includes everyone who believes in a roundtable discussion," led by Ethiopians. Six African heads of state — from Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda, and neighboring Somalia, Djibouti, Kenya, and South Sudan — were in attendance at Monday's ceremony. "Today, more than ever before, we hope to see an Ethiopian nation that is at peace with itself," Djibouti's president, Ismail Omar Guelleh, told the crowd. "We all know how fragile peace is in our region. ... We remain certain that the Ethiopian nation is bigger and stronger than whatever ails her."

"Today is a milestone yet only a beginning of a season of hope," Abiy's senior adviser Mamo Mihretu said on Twitter. "The road ahead might be daunting, but we shall not be weary."


Check out OkayAfrica's CrossroadsCrossroads, a special series examining Global Africa at critical moments. For our first package, we will dedicate 4 weeks of coverage to examining the lands of Ethiopia through a deep dive into music, politics, and culture.

Introducing 'Crossroads: Ethiopia' by OkayAfrica www.youtube.com

Photo by KOLA SULAIMON/AFP via Getty Image

#EndSARS: 1 Year Later And It's Business As Usual For The Nigerian Government

Thousands filled the streets of Nigeria to remember those slain in The #LekkiTollGateMassacre...while the government insists it didn't happen.

This week marks 1 year since Nigerians began protests against police brutality and demanded an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The #EndSARS protests took the world by storm as we witnessed Nigerian forces abuse, harass and murder those fighting for a free nation. Reports of illegal detention, profiling, extortion, and extrajudicial killings followed the special task force's existence, forcing the government to demolish the unit on October 11th, 2020. However, protestors remained angered and desperate to be heard. It wasn't until October 20th, when soldiers opened fire on demonstrators at Lekki tollgate in the country's capital, Lagos, that the protests came to a fatal end. More than 56 deaths from across the country were reported, while hundreds more were traumatized as the Nigerian government continued to rule by force. The incident sparked global outrage as the Nigerian army refused to acknowledge or admit to firing shots at unarmed protesters in the dead of night.

It's a year later, and nothing has changed.

Young Nigerians claim to still face unnecessary and violent interactions with the police and none of the demands towards systemic changes have been met. Fisayo Soyombo the founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, told Al Jazeera, "Yes, there has not been any reform. Police brutality exists till today," while maintaining that his organization has reported "scores" of cases of police brutality over this past year.

During October 2020's protests, Nigerian authorities turned a blind eye and insisted that the youth-led movement was anti-government and intended to overthrow the administration of current President Muhammadu Buhari. During a press conference on Wednesday, in an attempt to discredit the protests, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed hailed the Nigerian army and police forces for the role they played in the #EndSARS protests, going as far as to say that the Lekki Toll Massacre was a "phantom massacre with no bodies." These brazen claims came while protesters continued to gather in several major cities across the country. The minister even went on to shame CNN, Nigerian favorite DJ Switch as well as Amnesty International, for reporting deaths at Lekki. Mohammed pushed even further by saying, "The six soldiers and 37 policemen who died during the EndSARS protests are human beings with families, even though the human rights organizations and CNN simply ignored their deaths, choosing instead to trumpet a phantom massacre."

With the reports of abuse still coming out of the West African nation, an end to the struggle is not in sight. During Wednesday's protest, a journalist for the Daily Post was detained by Nigerian forces while covering the demonstrations.

According to the BBC, additional police units have been set up in the place of SARS, though some resurfacing SARS officers and allies claim to still be around.

Young Nigerians relied heavily on social media during the protests and returned this year to voice their opinions around the first anniversary of an experience that few will be lucky enough to forget.

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