Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was declared the recipient of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday morning.
The Nobel committee said the prize was awarded to Ahmed for his "efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea."
According to the official announcement, the prize is meant to
recognise all the stakeholders working for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia and in the East and Northeast African regions.
When Abiy Ahmed became Prime Minister in April 2018, he made it clear that he wished to resume peace talks with Eritrea. In close cooperation with Isaias Afwerki, the President of Eritrea, Abiy Ahmed quickly worked out the principles of a peace agreement to end the long "no peace, no war" stalemate between the two countries. These principles are set out in the declarations that Prime Minister Abiy and President Afwerki signed in Asmara and Jeddah last July and September. An important premise for the breakthrough was Abiy Ahmed's unconditional willingness to accept the arbitration ruling of an international boundary commission in 2002.
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.
Ahmed is the first Ethiopian to be awarded a Nobel Prize. "I was so humbled and thrilled when I just heard the news," Ahmed said.
Listen to the call between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali and Olav Njølstad, Secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee:
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In response to the news, Amnesty International's secretary general Kumi Naidoo congratulated Ahmed for the award and praised him for the reforms he has enacted.
"This award recognizes the critical work Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's government has done to initiate human rights reforms in Ethiopia after decades of widespread repression," said Naidoo.
"Since assuming office in April 2018, it has reformed the security forces, replaced the severely restricting charities and society law, and agreed a peace deal with neighbouring Eritrea to end two decades of hostile relations. He also helped broker an agreement between Sudan's military leaders and the civilian opposition, bringing an end to months of protests."
Despite those gains, however, Naidoo said much work remains to be done and indicated his hopes that the Nobel would serve to bolster future progress.
Congratulations to PM Abiy Ahmed for winning the Nobel Peace Prize.
I recall the repressive years, when I witnessed Kangaroo trials and courageous activists incarcerated. Truly remarkable human rights reforms have happened under his leadership. https://t.co/WTUBWordBn
— Kumi Naidoo (@kuminaidoo) October 11, 2019
"Ahmed's work is far from done," said Naidoo. "This award should push and motivate him to tackle the outstanding human rights challenges that threaten to reverse the gains made so far. He must urgently ensure that his government addresses the ongoing ethnic tensions that threaten instability and further human rights abuses. He should also ensure that his government revises the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation which continues to be used as a tool of repression, and holds suspected perpetrators of past human rights violations to account."
"Now more than ever Prime Minister Abiy," he concluded, "must fully espouse the principles and values of the Nobel Peace Prize to leave a lasting human rights legacy for his country, the wider region, and the world."