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PM Abiy Ahmed among Time 100 Most Influential Persons


In 2019, the Nobel Committee awarded the Peace Prize to Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for his efforts to end his country’s decades-long conflict with neighboring Eritrea. Abiy’s peace treaty with Eritrean dictator Isaias Afwerki inspired hopes for a transformed region, but also planted the seeds for an Ethiopian civil war. In November 2020, Abiy, with Afwerki’s support, launched a military campaign against their shared enemy: leaders of the rebellious ­northern Tigray region that borders Eritrea.

The civil war, now in its 19th month, has become a byword for atrocities against Tigrayans: Abiy’s forces have been accused of massacres, sexual assault, and ethnic cleansing. Famine looms with millions impacted. In March, he declared a truce to allow humanitarian access to the region, which had been blocked for months. But like a previous “humanitarian truce” in June 2021, it appears to be largely strategic, and little real aid has arrived. Abiy has started calling Tigrayan rebels “weeds” in a rise in hate speech. African civil-­society groups are now pleading with the U.N. to act, lest Ethiopia devolve into ethnic cleansing reminiscent of Rwanda. In January, the Norwegian Nobel Committee in a rare move criticized Abiy, noting he has “a special responsibility to end the conflict and contribute to peace.”

Baker is a TIME senior correspondent



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