PM on tour
After his swearing-in as the Prime Minister of Ethiopia replacing Hailemariam Dessalegn, Abiy Ahmed (PhD) held visits and discussions with different members of the community in different parts of the country.
Abiy made his first visit to the Somali region. The main aim for his visit was to deal with the residents in conflict along the border lines of Oromia and Somali regional states.
The Prime Minister who condemned the conflict that resulted in the death of thousands and displacement of about a million people from both ethnic lines, stated that the incident was, “inappropriate and out of our culture of respect and this made us bow our heads down in shame.”
In his visit to Jigjiga – the seat of the Somali regional government – Abiy met with religious leaders, higher level regional government officials, and renowned individuals drawn from both regions.
The delegation of the Prime Minister included Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen, Oromia regional state president Lemma Megerssa, Minister of Foreign Affairs Workneh Gebeyehu (PhD) and other high level regional and federal officials.
In a public discussion held with different representatives of the public, Abiy insisted the leaders of the two nations work together in order to bring a proper reconciliation among the brotherly people of the two regions.
“If we have to fight, it has to be on borrowing tractors and bull-dozers which are drivers for development,” he asserted to the gathering. He then called up on the two regional heads to shake hands in front of the gathering as a sign of their commitment to bring about real reconciliation among the two neighboring regions.
The visit to Jigjiga was made on April 5, 2018, just five days after his inauguration as the nation’s Prime Minister.
The next destination for the Prime Minister on the peace tour was Ambo, a town located 100 kilometers from Addis Ababa in Oromia regional state, which was the center of unrest that rocked the country. When he arrived in his motorcade the road was filled with enthusiastic people waving the national as well as the regional flags. Abiy was received by a huge crowd estimated to be about 50,000. He was given a horse, a spear and shield as a compliment.
Similar to his visit in Jigjiga, Abiy was accompanied by Demeke, Lemma and Workneh, which were met by the town and woreda leaders around Ambo.
The opening speech was made by Lemma who appreciated the responsibility entrusted to his comrade Abiy and his home party the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO). He reiterated, “The responsibility vested on us is to lead the region as well as the country.”
Demeke, taking to the podium following Lemma stated that, “this was a historic day,” and “Qerro deserves the credit for the change in Ethiopia.”
Abiy, took the podium invited by his deputy Demeke, stated that the “youth are the shield and protectors of the Oromo people.”
“I am very happy to be among you in Ambo,” Abiy said; “the recent peaceful power transfer is a testimony for the level of democracy our country has reached and it indicates that the practices of our Geda system have positively affected our democratization process.”
He also offered a piece of his mind to the gathering saying, “We have to live together in a sense of mutual interest in each other.”
Attendants of the gathering in a stadium of Ambo were cheerful and among them was Mekonnen Bedada, a freshman accounting student at the Ambo University. Mekonnen said that the unrest observed over the past three years has calmed down now, as university students commenced their classes.
Among the crowd were also two Indian instructors of the College of Agricultural and Veterinary Science from Ambo University – Chandra Selcher Singh (PhD) and Mohammed Fakir (PhD), who were amazed by the enthusiastic gathering. They told The Reporter that they were perplexed by the love the people have shown to their leaders.
After his return from Ambo, the Prime Minister arranged a dinner with opposition party leaders at the Minilik II palace during which he urged the opposition, whom he calls ‘competing parties’, to come up with concrete policy directions to compete in the political arena.
“Our party and government will definitely work to make the upcoming election free and fair as much as possible,” he promised to the gathering.
Two days after the rally, Abiy’s destination was Mekelle, capital of the Tigray regional State, where he went to the martyr’s memorial and placed a wreath of flowers before saluting in a soldierly manner.
He then entered the Martyr’s hall to give a speech more like the one he made at the House of Peoples’ Representatives during his swearing in. But this time, he made it in Tigrigna, a language he was said to speak but never heard in public.
When he opened his speech by, “honorable high-level government officials …,” the meeting hall was filled with cheering claps.
During his speech in Mekelle, he appreciated the people of Tigray and recognized their contribution to the history as well as the current Ethiopia and every paragraph of his meticulous Tigrigna speech was accepted by applauds.
“Apart from being the base for the new Ethiopia, Tigray is where the country’s history was baked like bread,” he said. He then called prominent martyr’s that gave their lives for the independence of the country during the 17 years struggle with the Marxist military junta – Derg.
He also apologized for the conflict in Oromia region, from where he hails and promised to work for the hard mishap not to happen again. He also promised to compensate the affected people by the unrest.
Despite the decline by Eritrea to take his previous call for peace negotiations, Abiy called again for the Eritrean government for peace talks.
Finishing his stay in Mekelle in one day, Abiy returned to Addis and is scheduled to discuss with 25,000 youth on Sunday, April 15, 2018 at the Millennium Hall. He is also scheduled to discuss with investors and business people on Monday, April 16, 2018 at Sheraton Addis Hotel.