- "It is a prize given to Africa, given to Ethiopia and I can imagine how the rest of Africa's leaders will take it positively to work on [the] peace-building process on our continent."
- Abiy was not the favorite among the oddsmakers to win the much-speculated Prize.
- Abiy was awarded the prize for his efforts to "achieve peace and international cooperation."
Abiy Ahmed, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, was announced Friday as the winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize. Abiy is the winner of the 100th Nobel Peace Prize, as announced today at a ceremony in Oslo, the capital city of Norway. The African leader will receive the award for his role in ending his country’s conflicts with neighboring Eritrea. The award ceremony is scheduled for December 10th this year, in the same city.
Reacting to the good news, Mr. Abiy said that, he was; “humbled and thrilled.” “Thank you very much. It is a prize given to Africa, given to Ethiopia and I can imagine how the rest of Africa’s leaders will take it positively to work on [the] peace-building process on our continent,” while speaking with the secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee on phone.
In the nominations for the prestigious Nobel peace prize, a total of 301 candidates had been chosen. The list included 223 individuals and 78 organizations. Punters gave the 43-year old Abiy among the best odds to win the Prize, but 16-year old environmental activist Greta Thunberg was seen as the favorite. Other potential winners included New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern or Brazilian Chief Raoni Metuktire, who is well known internationally for his efforts in the preservation of the environment.
The peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea was signed in 2018, ending two decades of conflict between the two East African nations. An estimated 100,000 people lost their lives in the border disputes since 1998. To achieve peace in the region, Ethiopia ceded territory to the neighboring country, in one of Abiy’s first acts after assuming office in April last year. Abiy’s negotiations with Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki allowed the countries to resume diplomatic relations. While announcing him the winner, the organizing committee justified the decision for “his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation and in particular in his decisive initiative to resolve the conflict with neighboring Eritrea.”
Who is Abiy Ahmed?
The then 42-year-old Abiy became immediately popular when he took over office in April 2018. He released thousands of political prisoners, gave opposition parties their freedom and promised the introduction of free and fair elections. Abiy was committed to fighting corruption in the country. He also appointed the first female president of the country last year.
“A collective victory for all Ethiopians”
The Nobel Prize Committee has equally praised Abiy not only for the peace agreement but also for his role as a mediator in other international conflicts in Africa. Under his leadership, the diplomatic relationship between Eritrea and Djibouti has been restored. Abiy has also worked to put an end to a border conflict between Kenya and Somalia.
The prime minister has also made enemies in Ethiopia. This became apparent during an assassination attempt last June, when someone tried to attack Abiy with a grenade. Luckily, he was not harmed.