Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali has been awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019 in recognition of his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea and for introducing other important reforms in the country since becoming Prime Minister 18 months ago.
The announcement was made at a press conference at the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo.
Announcing the prize, the Nobel committee said that Ali, in close cooperation with Isaias Afwerki, President of Eritrea, had quickly worked out a peace agreement to end the long “no peace, no war” stalemate between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after a 30-year guerrilla war. About 80,000 people died in a war between the two sides from 1998 to 2000.
43-year-old Ali is the youngest head of government in Africa and has now become the first Ethiopian to be awarded a Nobel Prize.
According to a statement by the Nobel committee, Ali had spent his first 100 days as Prime Minister lifting the country’s state of emergency, granting amnesty to thousands of political prisoners, discontinuing media censorship, legalising outlawed opposition groups, dismissing military and civilian leaders who were suspected of corruption, and significantly increasing the influence of women in Ethiopian political and community life.
The Nobel committee also pointed to Ali’s other diplomatic efforts in East Africa. He has tried to ease tensions between Eritrea and Djibouti and between Kenya and Somalia. He has also reached out to different sides in Sudan.
Leaders in Africa, including those of Liberia, Ghana and neighbouring Somalia, reacted with praise and encouragement. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the “winds of hope are blowing ever stronger across Africa.”
Since 1901, 99 Nobel Peace Prizes have been handed out to individuals and 24 organizations. While the other Nobel prizes are announced in Stockholm, the peace prize is awarded in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.