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20 reasons why Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was named the winner of the 100th Nobel Peace Prize on 11 October 2019 for his efforts in ending a 20-year border war with Eritrea.

A total of 301 candidates had been nominated for the Nobel Peace prize, including 223 individuals and 78 organisations, he will receive the award on December 10 in Oslo, Norway.

Abiy Ahmed Ali was born in Beshasha, Ethiopia on 15 August 1976 to a Muslim father and Christian mother, he has a BSc Computer Engineering, Diploma in Cryptology, MA in Transformational leadership, an MBA & a PhD Peace & Security studies.

The former military intelligence officer, ex-MP & one-time Minister of Science became Africa’s youngest country leader on 2 April 2018 after Hailemariam Desalegn resigned.

We have compiled 20 reasons why Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed deserves the 2019 Nobel Peace prize

  1. Ended a 20-year border war with Eritrea
  2. Un-banned political parties in Ethiopia
  3. Appointed Ethiopia’s first gender-balanced cabinet
  4. Freed thousands of opposition activists from jail
  5. Allowed exiled dissidents to return home
  6. Appointed Ethiopia’s first female president
  7. Appointed Ethiopia’s first female defence minister
  8. Unblocked censored TV stations & websites
  9. Liberalised the economy
  10. Reduced the number of Ethiopia’s cabinet ministers from 28 to 20
  11. Introduced visa-free travel for all Africans visiting Ethiopia
  12. Helped broker a peace agreement between Sudan’s military and opposition resulting in the formation of a Government of National Unity
  13. Ended a year-long state of emergency
  14. Appointed a former opposition leader as head of Ethiopia’s electoral agency
  15. Appointed Ethiopia’s first female Chief Justice
  16. Actively involved in peace talks between South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and the rebel leader Riek Machar.
  17. Helped to normalise diplomatic relations between Eritrea and Djibouti after years of political hostility.
  18. Mediated between Kenya and Somalia in a protracted conflict over the maritime border between the two countries.
  19. Coopted Ethiopia’s 81 opposition parties in discussing electoral reforms
  20. Reduced ethnic tensions in Ethiopia
  21. Discontinued media censorship & opened up space for independent media
  22. Fired prison officials implicated in human rights abuses
  23. Dismissed military and civilian leaders who were suspected of corruption

Video of what Abiy Ahmed said after winning the 2019 Nobel Peace prize

Here’s a few more comments from Berit Reiss-Andersen, the Chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, on why the committee gave Abiy this year’s award:

“When Abiy Ahmed became Prime Minister in April 2018, he made it clear that he wished to resume peace talks with Eritrea

. In close cooperation with Isaias Afwerki, the President of Eritrea, Abiy Ahmed quickly worked out the principles of a peace agreement to end the long “no peace, no war” stalemate between the two countries.”

Reiss-Andersen also praised Afwerki for working with Abiy to achieve peace:

“Peace does not arise from the actions of one party alone. When Prime Minister Abiy reached out his hand, President Afwerki grasped it

, and helped to formalise 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.”

She commented too on Abiy’s domestic reforms as leader:

In Ethiopia, even if much work remains, Abiy Ahmed has initiated important reforms that give many citizens hope for a better life

 and a brighter future. He 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. He has also pledged to strengthen democracy by holding free and fair elections.

But she accepted that several challenges remain in bringing peace and security to the country:

Ethiopia is a country of many different languages and peoples. Lately, old ethnic rivalries have flared up. According to international observers, up to three million Ethiopians may be internally displaced.

 That is in addition to the million or so refugees and asylum seekers from neighbouring countries. As Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed has sought to promote reconciliation, solidarity and social justice. However, many challenges remain unresolved. Ethnic strife continues to escalate, and we have seen troubling examples of this in recent weeks and months.

A picture of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali

Abiy Ahmed Ali
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