THE DRC ambassador and dean of the diplomatic corps Bene Mpoko, left, ambassador of Ethiopia Dr Shiferaw Teklemariam Menbacho, ambassador of the Comoros Mbulelo Bungane, director for East Africa at the Department of International Relations and Co-operation and UN resident co-ordinator Nardos Bekele-Thomas.
Pretoria - A throng of ambassadors from around the world descended on the Ethiopian embassy in Pretoria yesterday to celebrate the recent awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Ethiopian ambassador Dr Shiferaw Teklemariam Menbacho said his prime minister was humbled by the award, and he has dedicated it to peace lovers globally.

“Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is known as a leader and philosopher of inclusiveness, but inclusiveness is suffering as multilateralism is being downplayed. Countries must take bold steps to ensure no one is left behind,” Menbacho said.

“Let us abolish barriers and build bridges between us so we can reconcile artificial differences. Ahmed has worked hard at reconciliation at home, as inclusiveness brings stability.”

Menbacho also highlighted that 50% of leaders in Ethiopia were women. He hailed Ahmed as a leader of delivery, while the continent has a chronic problem in the lack of decisive action. “Without delivery public trust is lost. Ahmed wanted to institute radical change and wasted no time. In 18 months as head of state, he took more decisions than during long periods of previous governments.”

Menbacho commended Ahmed on ending the armed conflict with Eritrea, that cost 80000 lives between 1998 to 2000. He said Ahmed had also taken practical decisions such as introducing a visa regime where visas are available on arrival. He took the remarkable decision to plant 350 million trees in one day on July 29. Ahmed is committed to unifying the governing party ahead of the elections next year.

“Ahmed has a deep attachment with Ethiopians at home, and in the diaspora. He told Ethiopians to pursue reconciliation as there is no future without forgiveness, and he extended his hand to Eritreans in his inaugural speech. The consensus among those in attendance was that leadership can make a change in practical terms.

“The African continent celebrated this special moment, and Ahmed is the 100th peace prize laureate. Ahmed’s many achievements include the empowerment of women; the release of thousands of political prisoners; amnesty for journalists; and the establishment of a reconciliation commission,” ambassador of the Comoros Mbulelo Bungane said.

Ahmed has published a book Medmer, which has sold 1 million copies. As Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it is done,” so applicable to Ethiopia under the Ahmed administration, Bungane said.

The UN resident co-ordinator to South Africa, Nardos Bekele-Thomas said, “I am so happy as an Ethiopian that the peace award is coming home to Africa, and to Ethiopia - the cradle of civilisation. Peace is not only the absence of conflict, it is about building a resilient nation which is inclusive, and it is about giving people freedom from want.

“Our prime minister is giving hope to the younger generation, and showing that in darkness there is always light, which is significant coming from a leader who emanates from a poor and humble background,” Bekele-Thomas said.

Pretoria News