Nobel Peace Prize 2019: Is the Conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea Over? Part III

Nobel Peace Prize 2019: Is the Conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea Over? Part III

Many changes have been made that look very good. Critics have nevertheless pointed out that much looks good, but that it lacks profound changes. The conflict with Eritrea was not only a conflict with the neighboring country, but also directed at the northern state of Tigray. In this part of Ethiopia, there are many who are very critical of today’s political picture, and believe that little has improved under the new prime minister.

According to the plan, Ethiopia will hold parliamentary elections in May 2020. There are divided opinions on whether the country is ready for this. Critical voices fear that the preparations for the election will not be able to be carried out satisfactorily, and that the danger of violence is great. In a country with more than 100 million inhabitants and clear political tensions, the election will require significant resources.

Although Ethiopia has held elections regularly since 1995, few of the elections have been seen as open and free. The election in 2005 also resulted in violent clashes, and several hundred were injured or killed in protests after the election. With several fatal clashes in the country over the past year, many fear that the 2020 election will also end in violence. Prime Minister Abiy has stated that he believes the election should be conducted as planned, but he has also admitted that it is impossible to hold an election without any challenges.

One of the more visible Abiy critics is the activist Jawar Mohammed. He was previously one of Abiy’s supporters of the ethnic Oromo group, but has now begun to challenge the current prime minister. While Abiy promotes a unified Ethiopia, a country located in Africa according to, Jawar demands more power for the country’s various regions. According to some, a failed attempt to arrest Jawar in his house in Addis Ababa, protests erupted on October 23 in the capital and neighboring region of Oromia. In the days that followed, at least 67 people were killed .

While Norwegian district policy is characterized by mergers, Ethiopia can go the opposite way. On November 20, a referendum was held among the Sidama people in the south of the country, where there was a clear majority to establish a new regional state in Ethiopia. With the new state of Sidama, Ethiopia will be divided into ten semi-independent regions. The country’s population is spread over more than 80 different ethnic groups, and this type of referendum can be seen in light of how important ethnicity is in the country’s history and politics.

The regime in Ethiopia is often described as ethnic federalism . This means that the country is divided into different regions, basically based on the largest ethnic group in the different areas. Some claim that this system helps to secure the rights of the various ethnic groups. Others argue that this makes the country more divided, and that ethnicity should not be so central to politics and governance. Time will tell whether even more ethnic groups choose to apply to their own regions.

8: What happens in the future?

In both Ethiopia and Eritrea, the future prospects are uncertain. Although there is now a peace agreement between the two countries, the border crossings are largely closed. Clear boundaries on the ground are still missing. The same applies to agreements on currency, customs and trade. Much remains for the countries to go from peace on paper, to effective cooperation in practice.

When the peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea was signed last year, hopes also grew that Eritrea would open up. While Abiy has initiated many changes in Ethiopia, there have been few signs of anything similar in neighboring Eritrea.

Ethiopia is a large country, with connections to many countries in the rest of the world, and with a lot of visible and invisible political activity. The election next year will be a clear indicator of the state of democracy in the country. Will it be carried out as planned? Will it be fair? And will the country’s population face violence or calm in the next six months? For Abiy, this is one of the big tests of whether he is a democratic prime minister – and whether the Nobel Committee’s trust in the young head of state was well-founded.



  • Capital: Addis Ababa
  • Population: Just over 100 million
  • Land area: Approx. 1,000,000 km 2


  • Capital: Asmara
  • Population: Around 5 million
  • Land area: Approx. 100,000 km 2

Abiy Ahmed (b. 1976)

  • Ethiopia’s Prime Minister since April 2018
  • From Beshasha in the Oromia region of Ethiopia
  • Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019

Isaias Afewerki (b. 1946)

  • President of Eritrea since independence in 1993
  • From the capital of Eritrea, Asmara
  • Led the resistance movement EPLF before he became president

Nobel Peace Prize 2019