By: Valyne Laibuta

Thumbnail image courtesy of: The Telegraph

Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed. Photo courtesy of:

Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for mending relations with Eritrea, Ethiopia’s long-standing rival.

Abiy was deserving of this award “in particular, for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict neighboring Eritrea” said Brett Reiss-Anderson, Chair of the Nobel committee, who decides which individual is deserving of the phenomenal award. 

According to the Washington Post, the peace deal between Abiy and his Eritrean counterpart, Isaias Afwerki, formally ended a 20-year-old military standoff that led to Eritrea’s secession in 1993. 100,000 people lost their lives in the standoff that occurred between 1998-2003. The border dispute erupted into a full-blown war between the two neighboring nations.

Not only has he been able to mend ties with Eritrea, but the 43-year-old former intelligence officer has ushered a new era of peace and hope in Ethiopia that was riddled with authoritarian regimes. In this new era he has:

  • Released thousands of political prisoners
  • Lifted bans of various political organizations
  • Prosecuted former officials accused of torture
  • Vowed to move Ethiopia into its first free, multi-party elections in 2020

Abiy Ahmed is the third sitting head of government from Africa that has won the lucrative award. Previous African heads of states that have won the Nobel Peace Prize are Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, former president of Liberia and F.W. de Klerk who won it jointly with Nelson Mandela in 1993 as South Africa transitioned from apartheid. 

Last year the award was awarded jointly to 64-year-old Dennis Mukwege, a Congolese doctor who treated thousands of women who had been raped or sexually assaulted as a result of conflict in Congo, and 26-year-old Nadia Murad, who advocated for the support and freeing of Yazidi women who had captured and held as sex slaves by the Islamic State (IS).

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