“FREEDOM IS NOT a gift doled out to people by a government,” Abiy Ahmed said in his inaugural address as Ethiopia’s prime minister in 2018. “Rather [it is] a gift of nature to everyone that emanates from our human dignity.” His words marked a remarkable turn for a country that over the past five decades had seen an absolute monarchy, revolutions, civil war and authoritarian rule, but not freedom or democracy. After coming to power on the back of anti-government protests, Abiy freed political prisoners and journalists, welcomed opposition parties back from exile and encouraged rebels to disarm. He made peace with Eritrea, for which he was awarded the Nobel prize last year, and pledged to hold the first free elections in Africa’s second-most-populous

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