Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has had one and a half hectic days in store when he arrives in Oslo on Monday to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
During his short visit, he has chosen to drop both the traditional press conference the day before the awards ceremony and the children’s awards party, which is organized by Save the Children (Redd Barna) on Nobel Day.
The Peace Prize winner lands at Gardermoen on Monday afternoon and goes straight to a meeting and dinner with the Nobel Committee.
Tuesday is the big day, with an award ceremony at the City Hall in Oslo at 13:00.
Ahmed was awarded this year’s Peace Prize because in the first six months as prime minister he managed to make peace with neighboring Eritrea after decades of conflict and accelerated democratization in Ethiopia. However, during the last six months the Eritrea process has stalled, while unrest in Ethiopia has increased sharply.
Will not attend the children’s awards party
On Tuesday morning, Save the Children hosts their tradition of believing the children’s Peace Prize party at the Nobel Peace Center at City Hall Square, but without Abiy Ahmed present. Instead, he will be sending his peace minister Muferihat Kamil.
However, Crown Prince Haakon and Vice-Chairman of the Nobel Committee Henrik Syse will celebrate with the children.
The Peace Prize winner instead goes to the Castle for a brief audience with the royal family at 12 o’clock, before going down to the Town Hall and the grand ceremony.
Then they prepare for the traditional entries in the program with a torchlight parade in honor of the Peace Prize winner and the Nobel Banquet at the Grand Hotel.
On Wednesday, Ahmed will meet Prime Minister Erna Solberg (H). He then goes to Parliament to meet with Parliamentary President Tone W. Trøen and the Foreign and Defense Committee, before embarking on his return trip home.
Dropping press conference
Earlier this week, he caused a stir when it became known that Ahmed has said no to both the press conference the day before the awards ceremony, the children’s peace party and the Nobel interviews with NRK, the BBC and Al Jazeera, as well as the press conference after the meeting with the prime minister. It has been planned that the Peace Prize winner will make a statement, but not accept questions, NTB has been informed.
It is rare for peace prize winners to drop the press conference ahead of the awards ceremony. The last time that happened was when Barack Obama received the 2009 Peace Prize.
Ahmed’s reluctance to meet the media led the Nobel Institute’s director Olav Njølstad to travel to Ethiopia to advise Ahmed to follow the Nobel tradition and be in dialogue with the press.
“We have been very clear about this and have explained that for a number of reasons we find this highly problematic,” Njølstad told NRK.
Ahmed has given very few interviews since becoming prime minister in 2018. His press officer Billene Seyoum explains the lack of willingness to meet the media during the Nobel days that her boss has a “humble nature” that is not entirely in line with all the attention surrounding the Peace Prize.
At the same time, Ahmed avoids having to answer difficult questions about the situation in his home country and the relationship with Eritrea.
The increasingly tense situation in Ethiopia is also one of the reasons why Ahmed has made the visit to Oslo as short as possible, Seyoum told the news agency AP.
Fear of new turmoil
– “The domestic conditions are urgent and require attention,” she says.
There is widespread fear that the turmoil in Ethiopia, which is often along ethnic lines, will rise to new heights ahead of the planned elections in May next year.
In addition, there has also been a debate over whether Abiy Ahmed deserves the Peace Prize, the AP writes.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today