Abiy Ahmed Ali worked for peace with Eritrea, has overseen democratic reforms and mediated in regional disputes.
BY AL JAZEERA
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali of Ethiopia won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, the awards committee announced in Norway on Friday. He was recognised for starting peace talks with Eritrea and establishing a peace agreement to end the long stalemate between the two countries.
“When Abiy Ahmed reached out his hand, President Isaias Afwerki grasped it and helped to formalise the peace process between the two countries,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee.
“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 civil leaders who were suspected of corruption and significantly increasing the influence of women in Ethiopian political and community life.”
The office of the Ethiopian prime minister said: “We are proud as a nation” for winning the prestigious award.
‘More to be done’
Abiy has helped mediate between Kenya and Somalia in a maritime territory dispute and has also been key to bringing leaders of Sudan and South Sudan to the negotiating table.
The immediate reaction in Ethiopia was of “surprise, but not shock”, said Al Jazeera’s Robin Kriel, reporting from Addis Ababa.
“He really has been trying to open up the landscape in a very inclusive and nationalistic way for all Ethiopians, and not just one ethnicity,” she added.
“It will be a mixed bag of emotions – his critics say it will now put a lot of pressure on him to hold free and fair elections in May next year.”
That was a theme echoed by Amnesty International.
“Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s work is far from done,” said Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty’s secretary-general.
“This award should push and motivate him to tackle the outstanding human rights challenges that threaten to reverse the gains made so far. He must urgently ensure that his government addresses the ongoing ethnic tensions that threaten instability and further human rights abuses. He should also ensure that his government revises the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation which continues to be used as a tool of repression, and holds suspected perpetrators of past human rights violations to account.”
In close cooperation with Isaias Afwerki, the President of Eritrea, this year’s Peace Laureate Abiy Ahmed quickly worked out the principles of a peace agreement to end the long “no peace, no war” stalemate between Ethiopia and Eritrea.#NobelPrize #NobelPeacePrize
— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 11, 2019