ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Tens of thousands of Ethiopians on Thursday have lined the streets of the capital, Addis Ababa, to welcome Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed upon his return from receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. People wore clothes displaying their leader’s image and chanted slogans praising Abiy.
“The award has helped to draw attention to Ethiopia, Eritrea and the east Africa region,” Abiy said shortly after arriving at Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport. “I hope we will celebrate this milestone in Eritrea soon.”
People began pouring to the streets at dawn, some chanting “Long Live Abiy!” and “You make us proud!” Major roads that lead to and from the airport to the prime minister’s office were blocked.
Horsemen paraded alongside the Ethiopian leader’s convoy which was guarded by heavily armed members of the Republican Guard. Abiy experienced an assassination attempt shortly after he took office in April, 2018.
While Abiy is often praised for his achievements in the region that include forging a peace deal with Eritrea and mediating the warring factions in South Sudan, many argue that considerable domestic reforms are still needed in Ethiopia. They cite the ethnic tensions that have claimed the lives of several dozens of Ethiopians as the biggest challenge that Abiy must address.