The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019 on Friday to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali for his efforts to secure peace with neighboring Eritrea.
In his first 100 days after he took office in April 2018, Ahmed guided the African nation out of a state of emergency, granted amnesty to thousands of political prisoners and eliminated media censorship. Most importantly, the committee said, he immediately reached out to Eritrea President Isaias Afwerki to end a border conflict that had endured for more than 20 years.
“Peace does not arise from the actions of one party alone,” Norwegian Nobel Committee Berit Reiss-Anderson said. “When Prime Minister Abiy reached out his hand, President Afwerki grasped it and helped to formalize the peace process between the two countries. The Norwegian Nobel Committee hopes the peace agreement will help to bring about positive change for the entire populations of Ethiopia and Eritrea.”
Ali’s government ultimately agreed to cede the Badme territory to Eritrea three months after taking office, which effectively ended the conflict.
Ethiopia has many languages and ethnic rivalries within its own borders that Ahmed has worked to address. Millions have been displaced by conflict, while nearly 1 million more refugees are seeking asylum from other countries.
“As prime minister, Abiy Ahmed has sought to promote reconciliation, solidarity and social justice,” Reiss-Anderson said. “However, many challenges remain unresolved.”
“He has made peace, forgiveness and reconciliation key policy components of his administration,” Ali’s office said in a statement. “This victory and recognition is a collective win for Ethiopians and a call to strengthen our resolve in making Ethiopia — the New Horizon of Hope — a prosperous nation for all.”