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Ethiopia PM’s diaspora tour: diplomatic, economic and unity dividends

Introduction – Abiy’s fast-paced reforms

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Africa’s youngest political leader, achieved in 100 days what even opponents could not believe was possible in a country rocked by anti-government protests for months prior.

It was in March 2018 when after weeks of speculation, the ruling Ethiopia People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) finally settled on Abiy to replace resigned Hailemariam Desalegn.

Abiy, 42, was touted as the country’s first Oromo PM and a young leader with huge expectations bearing down on his shoulders. The Oromos hail from Ethiopia’s Oromia region and are the most populous ethnic group.

The Oromo bloc in the EPRDF coalition is known as the Oromo Peoples Democratic Organization (OPDO) – Abiy is OPDO’s current leader.

He took over the mantle on April 2, 2018; and has since then been in ‘fast and furious’ form – steering the country on a path hitherto unknown – there have been challenges but the successes have outpaced them by miles.

From the lifting of a state of emergency he inherited, undertaking a national tour to rally for unity, introduction of deep democratic reforms, release of thousands of political prisoners, removing terrorist labels on political organizations, firing prisons bosses over torture and admitting that government had in the past employed torture etc.

Then across the borders of the Horn of Africa, Abiy visited Djibouti to Sudan, Kenya to Somalia and then actualized a peace offer with Eritrea. He made a historic visit to Asmara where he signed a peace deal with Eritrean leader Isaias Afwerki.

As at July 25, 2018; the regional trips aside, Abiy’s overseas trips had seen him visit the Middle East a number of times. The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia were destinations where the leader held talks with host governments on a plethora of bilateral issues, securing release of Ethiopian prisoners. Read more...

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