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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."

SOURCE: AP News

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.

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Illustration of Abiy Ahmed for OkayAfrica by Bright Ackwerh

Heavy Is the Head: The Trials of Abiy Ahmed

Who is Abiy Ahmed? Two years ago, the Ethiopian Prime Minister accepted the Nobel Peace Prize during a glittery ceremony. Today, he presides over a bloody war and a growing humanitarian crisis. Can Abiy end the conflict before it upends Ethiopia?

I.

Like the brutal war he now presides over, Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed's nature and character must be gleaned from two diametrically opposed viewpoints. To his supporters, he is a Nobel laureate and visionary reformist faced with the near-impossible task of uniting a deeply divided nation. For hardcore Abiyists, he is the chosen one, here to build a better Ethiopia, battling enemies foreign and domestic.

Historically, Ethiopia has proven difficult to govern. Few outside of the corridors of Ethiopian power know how complex and layered this recent conflict is. The Amharas ruled the land for centuries with a feudal system that produced transcendent culture, beautiful architecture but also violently suppressed groups like the Oromo. The time of Abyssinian emperors, empresses, and ras reaches back to biblical times and is rife with imperial conflict and conquest. Leaders needed to remain on a war footing. The regional borders were amorphous and seismic shifts in power and control were par for the course. Strength and ruthlessness went hand in hand.

This inconvenient truth about Ethiopia's long running internal conflicts belies some of its mythology. Pan-Africans drew inspiration and strength from the story of the sole African state able to repel the colonial powers and maintain their sovereignty. The modern state of Ethiopia only emerged after the reign of the Amharas was disrupted by a communist uprising against Haile Selassie, followed by a subsequent uprising against the Communists. Millions of lives were lost. The current Federation Abiy governs sits atop regional volcanic fissures which are perpetually threatening to explode. Even before the Tigray region rebelled, Abiy faced a daunting task.

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