A year after the Congolese doctor, Denis Mukwege shared the Nobel Peace Prize 2018, another African has won it again: Abiy Ahmed Ali, Ethiopia’s prime minister was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last week for his work in ending the 20-year post-war territorial stalemate between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Abiy Ahmed became prime minister of Ethiopia at a time of profound strife, and through a serious of deft political gestures, including the release of thousands of political prisoners and overturning highly repressive restrictions on civil society and political groups, he probably averted a civil war. Last year, he was the first Ethiopian leader to meet with his Eritrean counterpart in over 2 decades , and both countries signed a “Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship.”
Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chairwoman of the five-member committee that made the decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize, credited Abiy with a peace initiative aimed at ending two decades of conflict between the two east-African neighbors that began over border disputes in 1998 only a few years after Eritrea gained independence.
“When Abiy Ahmed became prime minster in April 2018, he made it clear he wishes to resume pace talks with Eritrea,” she said. “In close cooperation with the president of Eritrea, Abiy Ahmed quickly worked out the principles for a peace agreement to end the long no peace stalemate between the two countries.”
When Abiy took office, he freed political prisoners and managed in the same year to sign a peace deal with the Eritrean leader, Isaias Afwerki — agreeing in the process to cede disputed land to his country’s erstwhile enemy.
“Peace does not arise from the actions of one party alone,” Reiss-Andersen said. “When Prime Minister Abiy reached out his hand, President Afwerki grasped it, and helped to formalize the peace process between the two countries.”
“Additionally, Abiy Ahmed has sought to mediate between Kenya and Somalia in their protracted conflict over rights to a disputed marine area. There is now hope for a resolution to this conflict,” she said.
“In Sudan, the military regime and the opposition have returned to the negotiating table. On the 17th of August, they released a joint draft of a new constitution intended to secure a peaceful transition to civil rule in the country. Prime Minister Abiy played a key role in the process that led to the agreement,” Reiss-Andersen added.
Although it is quite early in his career – after all, it has only been one year since he became prime minister – I think his is more justified than the one given to Obama for his speeches. Ever since I have grown to understand politics, I am always skeptical of these prizes anyway. However, this prize should encourage African and world leaders to work towards peace for their people at all times. We congratulate prime minister Abiy Ahmed, and wish him well in continuing to lead Ethiopia with a steady head.