Abiy Ahmed was born on August 15, 1976 in Oromia, one of the Horn of Africa state’s nine regions. Abiy Ahmed was unanimously elected chairman of the 81-member OPDO central committee. He is a former minister of science and technology under Desalegn. He has doctorate in peace and security from Addis Ababa University. He speaks fluent English and three Ethiopian languages.
According to the online Asharq Al-Awsat he is Ethiopia’s first Muslim prime minister, having been born to a Muslim father and Christian mother. He comes from a military and intelligence background and ranked as high as colonel in the Ethiopian army. He was also a member of the peacekeeping force that was deployed in Rwanda. It was only last year that Abiy Ahmed completed a PhD from Institute for Peace and Security Studies at Addis Ababa University.
Charismatic and credible
While still a teenager, Abiy reportedly joined the resistance movement against the “Red Terror” regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam. After its demise he joined the Ethiopian army in 1993, where he first worked in the intelligence service and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. After the Rwandan genocide of 1994, he was deployed as a member of the United Nations peace mission and later served in the border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Seyum Teshome is an Ethiopian blogger and university lecturer who was arrested by security forces in early March. Shortly before, he told DW he had previously praised Abiy’s qualities. “He has been overwhelmingly accepted by members of the opposition parties. He has strong willpower, great charisma and great credibility.”
It was not until 2010, after heading the cyber-intelligence service INSA, that Abiy moved into politics and quickly rose within the ranks of the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO). He was elected to the House of Representatives, and in 2016 he became the Federal Minister of Science and Technology in Addis Ababa. However, he soon returned to his native province of Oromia to take up the position of Head of the OPDO Secretariat.
At the end of 2015, Abiy found himself at the center of a violent dispute over illegal land-grabbing in the Oromia region. Although the controversial ‘Addis Ababa Master Plan’ was suspended in early 2016, the fallout continues to this day, with a death toll of thousands and many thousands injured. Abiy — along with regional president Lemma Megerssa — became one of the central figures of a newly awakened Oromo nationalism.
What do people think?
Kibour Gena, a businessman who lives in the capital Addis Ababa, told the BBC: “There are priority assignments forwarded by the party that await the new PM; and at the top of his list of priorities will be the state of emergency and bringing peace.
“In order to bring sustainable development and ensure fruitful, long-lasting efforts in the country, peace is of primary importance. So it is necessary to look whether the state of emergency restores or hinders peace.”
But there seems to be some confidence he can fulfil those tasks.
Mohamed Ali, who lives in Weldia, in Amhara region, welcomed the news, which came at midnight.
“Every one of us was happy for Abiy Ahmed,” he said. “We believe that he will restore peace and stability in the country. I was extremely happy. I hope that he will manage to make a difference, especially among the youth.”
Mebratu Dubale, who lives in Hawassa (in Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region), added: “I know he is qualified given his level of education as well as his experiences and his determination in that regard.
“He will be able to finish what was started and lead the country towards a better direction than the one we are currently in.”
Abiy Personal life
Abiy is married and met his wife, Mahder Paulos, while he was serving in the Ethiopian Defense Forces. They have three daughters together. Abiy is a multilingual and speaks Afaan Oromo, Amharic, and English. He is a fitness aficionado and professes that physical health goes hand in hand with mental health and as such frequents physical and gym activities in Addis Ababa.