Ethiopian Prime Minister and Nobel Prize winner Abiy Ahmed has been rocked by a massive protest.
Protesters in eastern Ethiopia, according to reports, are burning copies of a new book by Abiy in a show of solidarity with an opposition media activist, Jawar Mohammed.
The protest followed claims by Mohammed that the government was removing security from his home in the capital Addis Ababa, reports the BBC.
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The police have denied security had been withdrawn from Jawar’s home.
The protest comes less than two weeks after Abiy won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for ending the longstanding border dispute between his country and Eritrea.
Abiy last year signed a peace pact with Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki to end the hostilities that began with a two-year border war in 1998, deteriorating into 18 years of stalemated relations.
The border town of Badme was the flashpoint for the conflict, resulting in the death of tens of thousands.
On Thursday Mohammed called for calm. Sixteen people were reported to have been killed during clashes between his supporters and police in the capital and other cities on Wednesday.
“Open the blocked roads, clean the towns of barricades, treat those who have been injured during the protests and reconcile with those you have quarreled with,” Mohammed told hundreds of his supporters at his house in an address.
Police fired gunshots and tear gas on Wednesday to break up demonstrations against Mohammed’s treatment by the government.
A media entrepreneur, Mohammed masterminded the demonstrations that brought Abiy Ahmed to power last year.
Announcing Ahmed as the winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen, said the award was to recognize Ahmed’s “efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation and in particular his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighboring Eritrea”.
Potential winners for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize included the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, Jacinda Arden for her swift response to the Christchurch shooting.
Also, Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev, the prime ministers of Greece and North Macedonia respectively, who ended 30 years of acrimony between their countries were considered.
Ninety-nine individuals and 24 organizations have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prizes since 1901. Last year, the award went to Congolese gynecologist Denis Mukwege and Yazidi activist Nadia Murad – for their relentless fight against sexual violence.
Three hundred and one candidates were put forward for this year’s award. The Committee will make public their names after 50 years.
Earlier this year, Ahmed was named as the laureate of the 2019 edition of the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize for his activities in instigating the peace agreement between his country and longtime adversary, Eritrea.
He was declared the winner of the award by Audrey Azoulay, the Director-General of UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at the 2019 World Press Freedom Day global conference in Addis Ababa.
After the July peace pact, families that were displaced by the conflict returned to rebuild their homes in the once-contested areas.
Ethiopia in September last year reopened its embassy in the Eritrean capital after the July peace accord to restore ties after the two nations ended decades of conflict.
“When Abiy Ahmed became prime minister, he made it clear he wished to resume peace talks with Eritrea … In close cooperation with the president of Eritrea, he quickly worked out the principles for a peace agreement,” the Nobel Peace committee said.