Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed will not answer media questions when he collects his Nobel Peace Price in Oslo.
A statement by spokesperson Billene Seyoum said it would be challenging for Abiy, as a sitting Head of State, to dedicate so many days for the Nobel Programme events at a time when there are pressing domestic issues in Ethiopia.
“As you would know the celebratory Nobel program is quite extensive and elaborate. Rightly so as it celebrates peace and key achievements. Considering it is an extensive program, it is quite challenging for a sitting Head of State to dedicate that many days, particularly were domestic issues are pressing and warrant attention. Therefore, the Prime Minister will be attending essential and prioritised programs, agreed upon in consultation with the Nobel Institute, to honour and respect the Nobel tradition.”
Abiy won’t speak to reporters ahead of the awards ceremony or take questions after meeting with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg.
Abiy won the Nobel Prize in October for his efforts to resolve the decades-long border conflict with Eritrea, and for making significant domestic political, economic, and social reforms.
“Prime Minister Abiy is also one of the most accessible Ethiopian Prime Minister’s to date in public and media engagements. The Nobel Peace Prize has also garnered a lot of media requests for one-on-one interviews from all corners of the world and is difficult to satisfy all given the limited amount of time,” the statement said.
The Nobel Committee has, however, expressed its disappointment with the decision. The committee’s chairman, Berit Reiss-Andersen, called it “regrettable” and “unfortunate”
According to the New York Times, the director of the Nobel Institute, Olav Njolstad, travelled last week to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, to try to change Abiy’s mind on the matter, but failed.
“At a personal level, the humble disposition of the Prime Minister rooted in our cultural context is not in alignment with the very public nature of the Nobel award. The Prime Minister is humbled and grateful for the recognition and he has previously stated that “it is 10% celebration and 90% responsibility for him to work harder for peace” which he is doing each day,” the statement concluded.