The miracle in the Horn of Africa




The miracle in the Horn of Africa



Ethiopia and Eritrea have finally made peace this year. Suddenly, the future seems to be open.



Software Translation from German | Jan 2, 2019



Abiy Ahmed stands in a huge gallery in Addis Ababa’s Millennium Hall, 20,000 cheering Ethiopians wave to him, screaming as if he were the Messiah. The words that the new Ethiopian Prime Minister chooses are not so far removed from it, you have to say: “Forgiveness frees the conscience. When we say that we have reconciled, we mean that we have taken the path of forgiveness and love. »People cheer. Next to Abiy is a man many will later claim he smiled for the first time, for many years.



The Ethiopian head of government takes the hand of Isaias Afewerki, President of Eritrea, and holds it in the air: It is a historic moment in world history, but the world is experiencing it only to a very limited extent on this day in July.




A healthy form of populism



Ethiopia and Eritrea had gone into the year 2018 as deadly enemies. And little hinted that they would end it differently. Their war cost between 1998 and 2000 up to 80,000 people the life. Since then battles flared up again and again. It was about a desert patch, about pride and sea access. Now Abiy and Isaias are standing in the big hall of Addis Ababa holding hands. It is a miracle that went almost unnoticed beyond East Africa because the peace agreement coincided with the final of the football World Cup. But slowly other parts of the world have realized that something is happening there in the Horn of Africa.



There Abiy Ahmed shows that there is also a healthy form of populism. He does everything that most people have been asking for years. Abiy has released thousands of political prisoners, has made peace with Eritrea and begins to turn a previously authoritarian and corruption-prone regime on its head. No day goes by without a revolutionary act, he has a woman appointed president, designated oppositionists become ministers and former opponents of the regime high judges. It has something dreamlike.


Once a man of the regime, now a reformer: Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia. Photo: Keystone



For some, Ethiopia was already one of the countries in Africa before Abiy, who at least have a plan for their future. About 100 million people live there, more than 80 population groups. The most important positions in politics and economics in recent years have in most cases taken over representatives of the Tigray, but only six percent of the population. The Tigray itself justified this with the struggle for freedom, with the victims in the fight against the communist dictatorship, which was eventually defeated in 1991. Since then, a united front has reigned that, according to mood, allowed little to no opposition and tried to copy the Chinese model. There were huge investments in infrastructure, business parks were built and state apartments were built.



The reforms of Abiy Ahmed are radical



What was also increasing was corruption. And as a non-Tigray you hardly had a chance on the few jobs. Especially in the region Oromia, in which lives the largest population group, it came for several years again and again to mass demonstrations. Abiy Ahmed, 42, initially a United Front man and intelligence officer, became one of its leaders. The regime responded with violence and repression, and when none of it helped, it finally gave in and appointed Abiy in April as the new Prime Minister, the first Oromo at the head. In the bookstores of Addis Ababa, the works are stacked on the new bearer of hope, which is quite successful with the title “Moses,” which draws parallels to the Prophet.



Abyy’s reforms have something radical, it is hardly hesitated and not clocked. He has put many of the old rulers in the army and security apparatus or dismissed, he wants to the powerful company Metec collar, which belongs to the military and in many major projects involved, often with the consequences of mismanagement and corruption. For many, the old regime was a functioning business model, they are suspected of a bomb attack on Abiy.



Millions of people are waiting for jobs



A few months later, hundreds of soldiers stormed the Prime Minister’s office, allegedly to demonstrate for higher wages. Abiy received her with a smile and did push-ups with them. Later, he said that he was dreading his life. Ethiopia continues to be led by the same united front, Abiyy belongs to only one other of the four ruling parties. He wants to reform the system from the inside and has apologized for the torture and murders of the last 20 years, but there was little talk of a legal review.



The most urgent topic is the creation of new jobs. Millions of people who have held Abiy are waiting for a living. In recent years, Ethiopia has invested a lot in new universities whose graduates now have to stand on the street or wait. Although the gross national product often grew by double digits, the country was one of the world leaders. It has not been granted yet.



New times have dawned: people in Addis Ababa are looking forward to the visit of the Eritrean dictator Isaias Afewerki. Photo: AFP



Abiy is now looking for investors from abroad, wants to open the state-owned telecommunications companies and the airline Ethiopian Airlines for investors. The airline has tripled its business over the past seven years and now serves more than 100 international destinations. At the end of October, Abiy flew to Germany with one of her planes, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel received an investor summit. There were promises, but not as many as are necessary to satisfy the many dissatisfied.



Abiy Ahmed wants to help with the reform of Islam



European and especially German companies are hesitant about doing business in Africa. Sometimes the economic perspective may be missing, sometimes more courage. Europe was quite good at explaining to Africa how it has to change. Now that change is happening in Ethiopia, you do not really know how to support it.



Abiy is more likely to put his hopes on the Arabian Peninsula anyway. Some Gulf states have already promised billions. Abiy, humble as he is, has in turn been offered to help with the reform of Islam. “You have lost religion,” he told the Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates. “Islam no longer looks like true Islam. You have forgotten what forgiveness and peace is. » (Tages-Anzeiger)