Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Ahmed Rallies Silent Majority in Nekemte

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Under the banner of “Peace, Tolerance and Prosperity” Prime Minister Abiy rallies the silent majority in Wellega

Yesterday, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed rallied supporters at public gathering in Nekemte, a city in East Wellega, a former center of anti-government rebellion by the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA). Media commentator and pundits in Ethiopia depicted the rally as “showcasing support Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed reform agenda by the silent majority”.

Notable attendees included Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Deputy Prime Minister Temesgen Truneh, Speaker of the House of Peoples Representatives Tagese Chafo, Speaker of the House of Federation Agegnehu Teshager, Governor of Oromia, Shimels Abdisa. 

In his address to the crowd, Prime Minister Abiy emphasized the paramount importance of peace and solidarity, urging “continued efforts towards building a prosperous and inclusive society”. He called upon the attendees to uphold the progress achieved and strive for further positive changes, stressing the necessity of economic freedom and maintaining peace within the community. 

Abiy has succeeded in increasing his support from the beleaguered community of East Wellega, which faced five years of violence at the hands of the OLA insurgents. Despite its rich history as a center of multi-ethnic tolerance and relative advancement, Wellega became embroiled in violence starting 2019. As a result it remained largely a no-go zone until things started to stabilize in mid 2023. Among other things, the Prime Minister’s rally is meant to cement this growing peace. Abiy repeatedly mentioned the word peace, love, and tolerance in this speech.

At various points throughout the past five years, the Ethiopian Human Rights Council accused conflicting parties including, the OLA, Fano and government security forces for violence and civilian deaths in the region. The fighting in Wellega is estimated to have taken the lives of thousands and displaced even more people. The region was cited as a ferment of ethnically targeted killings of Amhara, many of whom were displaced by OLA rebels from 2020 to 2022. 

Since calm began to return to the region, there appears to be a tangible and sustainable peace. IDPs are slowing returning to the homes, with heartwarming scenes of neighbors welcoming them back, as shown on a recent documentary by state affiliated Addis Walta Media. 

Images of Abiy’s rally broadcast live depicted a large stadium full of people. Amidst a sea of banners displaying messages of unity and endorsement for the reforms, the atmosphere buzzed with enthusiasm and optimism. The presence of the Prime Minister and other high-ranking officials underscored progress in normalization. For a region that was recently a war-zone and a hotbed of anti-government insurgency, this rally for “peace tolerance, and prosperity” is testament to the aspirations of Ethiopia’s silent majority.

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