“Today, as the world takes note and celebrates his achievements through bestowing the Nobel Peace Prize, we invite all Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia to continue standing on the side of peace,” the statement read.
Eritrea and Ethiopia were once one. After a dogged, three-decade war, Eritrea seceded from Ethiopia and gained independence in 1991. But fresh fighting soon followed, and by 1998 the two nations were locked in a conflict over a portion of their shared border. A United Nations-backed committee found in Eritrea’s favor, but its ruling was never implemented, and the state of war continued.
Mr. Isaias, the Eritrean president, used the dispute as a justification to suspend the Constitution in Eritrea and impose an unending state of emergency, allowing him to conscript a majority of the population into permanent, indefinite military service.
The policy, which is still in place despite the peace deal last year, has sparked one of the world’s largest and most prominent refugee movements, as Eritreans left their country in droves seeking asylum in Europe and North America.
Experts say that peace prize being awarded to Mr. Abiy will renew pressure on Mr. Isaias to finally lift the state of emergency and with it the policy of mandatory conscription.
“To see a fully fledged peace deal which has a meaningful impact on the lives of Eritreans, and also Ethiopians to a lesser degree, we need to see internal changes in Eritrea that bring a return to constitutional government and reflect the ending of hostilities with Ethiopia,” Will Davidson, an expert with the research organization Crisis Group, said.
Others, like Meron Estefanos, an Eritrean-Swedish activist, see the prize as merely legitimizing Mr. Isaias and his brutal rule without forcing him to change his policies at home.