Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali has won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for his peacemaking efforts with neighboring Eritrea.
Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chairperson of the five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee that awards the Peace Prize, said Abiy was named for his decisive initiatives to end his country’s conflict with Eritrea within months of his coming to office in 2018.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres applauded the committee’s choice.
“I have said often that winds of hope are blowing ever stronger across Africa. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is one of the main reasons why,” he said in a statement Friday.
The Nobel Committee also took note of Abiy’s push for reforms within Ethiopia, largely aimed at easing the government’s control of political discourse in the East African country.
“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, legalizing 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,” the committee said.
The East African neighbors fought a brutal war from 1998 to 2000 and remained at bitter odds thereafter over unresolved land and border issues.
After Abiy came to power in April 2018, he said Ethiopia would comply with a 2002 ruling forcing it to cede territory, including the contested town of Badme. In July, he and Eritrean leader Isaias Afwerki signed a peace agreement officially ending hostilities.