The priceless efforts by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to bring lasting peace in his country and far beyond have been rewarded with the 2019 Nobel Peace prize award.
According to the Nobel Peace Prize committee, Mr Abiy Ahmed won the prestigious award due to his efforts to “achieve peace and international cooperation.” He will receive in Oslo, Norway, the 100th Nobel Peace Prize worth around nine million Swedish crowns (about £730,000; $900,000) in December.
On coming to the office, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed secured a peace deal with his country’s former arch-enemy Eritrea last year. That peace deal effectively ended the two country’s 20-year military war and hostilities.
As many as 301 prospective candidates (223 individuals and 78 organisations) had been nominated for the distinguished award, amongst them, climate activist Greta Thunberg, whom many tipped to win the award; but at the end of the day, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won the award.
Apart from Former US President Barack Obama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, other previous winners include former US President Jimmy Carter (2002), Malala Yousafzai (shared 2014), the European Union (2012), UNO general-secretary, Kofi Annan, (shared 2001 with the United Nations) and Saint Teresa of Calcutta (1979).
Prime Minister Abiy merited the award. Aside from his bold and aggressive liberalising reforms at home, which elevated the position of women and reorganised the once very tightly controlled political system in Ethiopia, his reform efforts pitched Abiy Ahmed against many corrupted and once untouchable individuals in Ethiopia. He boldly freed thousands of political prisoners and granted amnesty to dissidents, whom he encouraged to return home. His peace deal with Eritrea which ended a two-decade conflict with the neighbouring country, and his historic visit to Eritrea, all demonstrate Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s determination to bring peace to the volatile region. That peace initiative has paid some huge dividends. Eritrean leader Isaias Afwerki visited Ethiopia and the two countries opened their airspaces and encouraged their airlines to operate in the countries, something unthinkable some years ago.
But critics equally pointed out that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s peace initiative and reforms encouraged ethnic tension in Ethiopia and resulted in the displacement of some 2.5 million Ethiopians from their homes.
Generally, no reform goes without setbacks. Some believe that the Noble Prize Award is not only a huge recognition by the international community, of Abiy Ahmed’s peace efforts. The esteemed award will most likely encourage the 43-year old Prime Minister and others, who support his peace initiatives to work tirelessly towards achieving their goals.
According to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, the Nobel Prize is:
“To recognise all the stakeholders working for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia and in the East and Northeast African regions.”
The committee went on:
“Peace does not arise from the actions of one party alone. When Prime Minister Abiy reached out his hand, President Afwerki grasped it and helped to formalise the peace process between the two countries. The Norwegian Nobel Committee hopes the peace agreement will help to bring about positive change for the entire populations of Ethiopia and Eritrea.”
We congratulate Prime Minister Abiy on this prestigious award and call on other leaders in Africa and elsewhere to stretch out their hands of peace so that others could grab them and embrace the new world peace, which is necessary for sustainable growth and development.
Photo: Al Jazeera