Abiy Ahmed, the prime minister of Ethiopia has won the prestigious 2019 Nobel peace prize for his efforts to resolve his country’s conflict with its neighbouring enemy Eritrea, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced on Friday.
“Abiy was awarded for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, the committee’s chairperson of the committee.
— Office of the Prime Minister – Ethiopia (@PMEthiopia) October 11, 2019
Abiy who got elected in April last year was successful in securing a peace deal with bitter foe Eritrea, released dissidents from jail, apologised for state brutality and welcomed home exiled armed groups who were branded terrorists by his predecessors. He signed a peace deal with Eritrea in July last year, which ended a nearly 20-year military stalemate with its neighbouring country following their 1998-2000 border war.
The 20-year-old war had killed more than 80,000 people and displaced thousands of others. Abiy had crossed into Eritrean border in July 2018 to meet and hug the Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki. Together they had announced the end of the war. Ethiopia had agreed to hand over the disputed territories to Eritrea, including the border town of Badme.
Abiy has also pushed through reforms at home and abroad, appointing former dissidents to senior roles. His public denunciation of past abuses done by his predecessors has earned him praises at home and abroad.
The 43-year Abiy became one of Africa’s youngest leaders when he was appointed as the prime minister of Ethiopia in March 2018. He soon took to implement a number of economic and political reforms aimed at opening up the economy to increased foreign investment and freeing up the political space for opposition parties.
“When Abiy Ahmed became prime minister, he made it clear he wished to resume peace talks with Eritrea. In close cooperation with the president of Eritrea, he quickly worked out the principles for a peace agreement,” the committee said.
The Nobel Prize committee further added, “The committee hopes that the Nobel peace prize will strengthen prime minister Abiy in his important work for peace and reconciliation. A peaceful, stable and successful Ethiopia will have many positive side-effects, and will help to strengthen fraternity among nations and peoples in the region.”
There were speculations that 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, or Hong Kong activists could win this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. The New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern, Greek PM Alexis Tsipras, and Zoran Zaev, the prime ministers North Macedonia were also being considered.
Last year, the Nobel Peace Prize was award to two champions fighting sexual violence, the Congolese gynaecologist Denis Mukwege and the Yazidi activist Nadia Murad. They were awarded a gold medal, a diploma and Swedish Krona 9 million (£728,000).