12 October 2019 10:58
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said Friday that he was "humbled and thrilled" to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. More photos are available at arkansasonline.com/1012peace/ ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia--Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019 in recognition of his efforts to end his country's two-decade border conflict with Eritrea. The Norwegian Nobel Institute on Friday also praised the "important reforms" that Abiy, Ethiopia's leader since April 2018, has launched at home. The prize comes as Abiy faces pressure to uphold the sweeping freedoms he introduced, and critics warn that his ability to deal with rising domestic unrest may be slipping. The Nobel committee said some people may consider it too early to give him the prize, but "it is now that Abiy Ahmed's efforts need recognition and deserve encouragement." The award, the 100th Nobel Peace Prize, reflects the committee's taste for trying to encourage works in progress.
Abiy said he was "humbled and thrilled." In a call with the Nobel committee, he laid out his hope that the award will be taken "positively" by other African leaders "to work on [the] peacebuilding process on our continent." Abiy, 43, took office after widespread protests pressured the longtime ruling coalition and hurt one of the world's fastest growing economies. Africa's youngest leader quickly announced overhauls and "Abiymania" began. On taking office, Abiy surprised people by fully accepting a peace deal ending a 20-year border war between the two East African nations that saw tens of thousands of people killed. Ethiopia and Eritrea had not had diplomatic ties since the war began in 1998, with Abiy himself once fighting in a town that remained contested at the time of his announcement last year. But Ethiopia's changes do not appear to have inspired any in Eritrea, which has since closed border posts with its neighbor.
He released tens of thousands of prisoners, welcomed home once-banned opposition groups and acknowledged past abuses. People expressed themselves freely on social media, and he announced that Ethiopia would hold free and fair elections in 2020. The country has one of the world's few "gender-balanced" Cabinets and a female president, a rarity in Africa. And for the first time, Ethiopia had no journalists in prison, media groups noted last year. The new prime minister also announced the opening-up of Ethiopia's tightly controlled economy, saying private investment would be welcome in major state-owned sectors. More troubling these days are Ethiopia's rising ethnic tensions, as people once stifled by repression now act on long-held grievances. About 1,200 people have been killed and about 1.2 million displaced in the greatest challenge yet to Abiy's rule. Some observers warn that the unrest will grow ahead of next year's election. The Nobel committee acknowledged that "many challenges remain unresolved." Amnesty International secretary Kumi Naidoo said the award should "push and motivate [Abiy] to tackle the outstanding human rights challenges that threaten to reverse the gains made so far." So far this week, 11 Nobel laureates have been named. The others received their awards for their achievements in medicine, physics, chemistry and literature. There were two literature laureates, Poland's Olga Tokarczuk and Austria's Peter Handke, after no prize was awarded last year due to sex abuse allegations that rocked the Swedish Academy. This was in honour of the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Abu Dhabi landmarks lit up in the colours of the Ethiopian flag in honour of the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed winning the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, October 11. Abiy Ahmed won the prize for his efforts to resolve the long-running conflict with neighbouring foe Eritrea. Abiy was honoured "for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea," the Nobel Committee said. My sincere congratulations to my dear friend Dr Abiy Ahmed @PMEthiopia on winning the #NobelPeacePrize. He is a wise man who has brought peace and hope to his country and region. The prize is a well-deserved honour for an extraordinary leader. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces also congratulated the Ethiopian Prime Minister on winning the Nobel Peace Prize. President Cyril Ramaphosa has extended his warmest congratulations to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali of Ethiopia on being awarded the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize. Prime Minister Ahmed has been recognised by the Nobel Committee "for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea". Abiy was meeting Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok when he was informed he had won the prize, Abiy's spokeswoman said. Ahmed said: "I am so humble and thrilled … It is a prize given to Africa, given to Ethiopia." Abiy had been bookmakers' second favourite to win, behind the teenage Swedish climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg. President Ramaphosa said: "South Africa offers its warmest congratulations to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on being awarded this prestigious prize. This award focuses global attention on our continent's relentless progress towards peace and stability. "We pay tribute to the governments and peoples of Ethiopia and Eritrea for making this achievement possible and for opening up new possibilities for cooperation, integration and development not just on the east coast of our continent but across our continent. "The peace achieved between these neighbouring states is an important enabler of the African Continental Free Trade Area and of the many objectives of the African Union's Agenda 2063. "We all share in Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's achievement and in the future of cooperation and good neighbourliness on which the peoples of Ethiopia and Eritrea have embarked."