OSLO: Hailed as a visionary and reformer, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his efforts to resolve the long-running conflict with neighbouring foe Eritrea.
Abiy was honoured “for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea,” the Nobel Committee said.
The award is seen as a welcome boost for Africa’s youngest leader as he faces worrying inter-community violence ahead of a parliamentary election in May 2020.
“I was so humbled and thrilled when I just heard the news,” Abiy told the Nobel Committee in a phone call posted online on the Nobel Prize website.
In a later interview on the same website, Abiy said he thought the prize would invigorate regional peace efforts.
“This is great news for Africa, great news for East Africa. A place where peace is a very expensive commodity, and I am sure it will give us energy to work towards peace and to realise peace within our region,” Abiy said.
This is the second year in a row that an African has received the award, after Congolese gynaecologist Denis Mukwege shared the prize with Yazidi activist Nadia Murad in 2018 for their work combatting sexual violence.
Since taking office in April 2018, the 43-year-old Abiy has aggressively pursued policies that have the potential to upend society in the Horn of Africa nation and reshape dynamics beyond its borders, after years of civil unrest.
On July 9, 2018, following a historic meeting in Eritrea’s capital Asmara, Abiy and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki formally ended a 20-year-old stalemate between the countries in the wake of the 1998-2000 border conflict.