Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Wins Nobel Peace Prize For Eritrea Pact

Written by Peter Pedroncelli
Abiy Ahmed
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end almost two decades of conflict with neighboring Eritrea. In this Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018 file photo released by the state-run Saudi Press Agency, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, right, signs a peace accord with Eritrea. Image: Saudi Press Agency via AP

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end almost two decades of conflict with neighboring Eritrea. 

The Oslo-based Norwegian Nobel Committee praised Abiy’s “decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighboring Eritrea”.

Ahmed, a former Ethiopian minister of science and technology, became Africa’s youngest leader at age 43 when he was appointed prime minister in March 2018. 

Once in power, Ahmed set in motion economic and political reforms to open up the economy for increased foreign investment and promote peaceful partnerships in the Horn of Africa.

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As the regional power, Ethiopia’s efforts have had a unifying effect. 

Ahmed accepted the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration‘s international boundary commission’s border decision in favor of Eritrea while improving relations between Eritrea and Somalia. 

In September 2018, Ethiopia signed a peace pact with Eritrea, ending the animosity between the two countries that stemmed from the 1998-2000 border war that claimed as many as 100,000 lives, AlJazeera reported.

Ethiopia has also facilitated talks between the leaders of Djibouti and Eritrea in search of a more collaborative and peaceful future, according to TheEastAfrican.

“It is a prize given to Africa, given to Ethiopia and I can imagine how the rest of Africa’s leaders will take it positively to work on peace-building processes in our continent,” Abiy said while accepting the award, according to Bloomberg

The U.N. lifted 10-year-old sanctions on Eritrea in November 2018 based on the initial work between Prime Minister Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki. There has been little progress since then.  

Four border crossings opened in 2018 have since been closed without explanation. Territorial demarcations required by a 2002 boundary commission are not yet in place. 

The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize was also awarded to an African. Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege was a joint winner for his work against sexual violence. Iraqi human rights activist Nadia Murad was the other winner of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize.