A new prime minister, even in the face of a brutal attack, preaches ‘love wins’ to a country in need of a new political narrative.

By Editorial Board (Christian Science Monitor) |

As Africa’s second most populous country and its fastest growing economy, Ethiopia is extraordinary in many ways. It weaves together 80 ethnic groups as well as Christians and Muslims. On a continent with the world’s youngest population, the median age of Ethiopia’s 102 million people is 18.

Yet now add to this list a new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, who took office in April as Africa’s youngest ruler with this extraordinary trait: He could be the only leader of any country who frequently tells people, “Love wins.”

Last Saturday, for example, after he gave a speech to a large and adoring crowd in the capital, Addis Ababa, someone threw a grenade toward him, killing two people and injuring more than a hundred. His response? “Love always wins. Forgiveness will win. Killing others is a defeat.”

After taking office, he apologized for the killing of dissidents under previous leaders. “I ask forgiveness from the bottom of my heart for the many advocates of freedom and justice…” he said.

He admitted the country is in chaos, a result mainly of several years of anti-government protests. He also admitted the government is tainted by corruption, pledging a crackdown and better rule of law. And he quickly tried to lift a climate of fear by releasing thousands of political prisoners and ending government blockage of opposition media.

His main message during a national tour: “We are now on the path of change and love.”

Dr. Abiy Ahmed advises people to cast away a spirit of hatred and revenge in order to end ethnic fears and resentments. To make his point, he made a generous peace offer with neighboring Eritrea over a land dispute that led to a disastrous war two decades ago.

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