Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali was announced today (11) as the Nobel Peace Prize winner. In a statement, the committee responsible for the election highlighted Ali’s work to “achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for its decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighboring Eritrea ”. The award also highlighted the importance of recognizing the efforts of those involved in peacekeeping in Ethiopia and in eastern and northeastern Africa.
Trajectory in Ethiopia
After being elected in 2018, the prime minister began negotiating peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea. In cooperation with Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, Abiy Ahmed elaborated on the principles of a peace agreement between the countries, which were set out in the declarations they both signed in the same year. Ali also accepted the decision to arbitrate an international border commission signed in 2002, which facilitated the “Jeddah Commitment” process, mediated by the United Nations, the African Union, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia.
In addition to the peace deal with the neighboring country, Ali also spent his first 100 days as prime minister lifting the state of emergency, granting amnesty to thousands of political prisoners, interfering with media censorship, legalizing illegal opposition groups, firing military and civilian leaders suspected of corruption and significantly increasing the influence of women in Ethiopian political and community life. He even promised to strengthen democracy by holding free elections.
“His vision helped Ethiopia and Eritrea reach a historic rapprochement, and I was honored to witness the signing of the peace agreement last year,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement. “Abiy gave a wonderful example for others inside and outside Africa who seek to overcome past resistance and put people first. ”
Conflict Mediation in Africa
Prime Minister Abiy has also engaged in peace and reconciliation processes in eastern and northeastern Africa. In September 2018, he and his government actively contributed to the normalization of diplomatic relations between Eritrea and Djibouti after many years of political hostility. In addition, Abiy Ahmed tried to mediate conflicts between Kenya and Somalia over rights to a disputed marine area between countries. In Sudan, the military regime and the opposition returned to the negotiating table. On August 17, they launched a joint draft of a new constitution to ensure a peaceful transition to civilian rule in the country, and Abiy played a key role in this process.
Award for encouraging peace in Africa
The Nobel Prize committee has admitted that for many the honor may appear to many to have come too soon due to the growing numbers of internal conflicts in the country, but believes that “it is now that Abiy Ahmed’s efforts deserve recognition and need encouragement.” and hopes that this will “strengthen Prime Minister Abiy in his important work of peace and reconciliation.” This is due to the role, according to the Ethiopian Nobel Committee, as the second-most populous country on the continent, and with East Africa’s largest economy, thus “a peaceful, stable and successful Ethiopia will have many positive side effects and will help strengthen the fraternity between nations and peoples of the region. ”