Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed wins the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize

By By Jeune Afrique with AFP
Posted on Friday, 11 October 2019 11:51

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is a member of the Mulu Wongel (Full Gospel) Believers Movement, which claims 4.5 million Ethiopian members. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Friday, October 11. He was one of the favourites after the spectacular reconciliation between his country and Eritrea.

“The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali for his efforts to promote peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border dispute with neighbouring Eritrea,” the organisation said.

“The award also aims to recognize all actors working for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia and the East and North-East African regions.”

The Ethiopian Prime Minister has, among other things, put an end to the state of emergency, released political prisoners, obtained a lifting of the ban on opposition groups from Parliament and pledged to facilitate foreign investment in key sectors of the economy. Thanks to this radical change, the 43-year-old has become popular with the youth.

It has not been plain sailing, with multiple challenges including ethnic friction and security challenges.

“I will be happy if Dr. Abiy wins the Nobel Peace Prize and I believe he deserves it. If he wins, it would encourage him to do more for Ethiopia,” said Merry Meles, a resident of Addis Ababa, before the announcement.

“He freed people who have been forgotten in prisons for centuries, absolutely forgotten. This is a major act for any good Ethiopian. I am an Ethiopian born and raised here, but I have never seen a leader like him in our country in my life. He is a positive person and I hope he will have many followers who will bring our country to a better position,” Bekele Bogale said.

Abiy Ahmed took office as Prime Minister in April 2018. Since then, he has attempted to push Ethiopia towards a more democratic footing and is trying to open the country to the outside world.

In contention against Greta Thunberg

He was competing against prominent figures such as environmental activist Greta Thunberg, and various organisations, including Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

A total of 304 applications were submitted this year, including Donald Trump’s, whose chances of obtaining it were considered very slim.

He succeeds Congolese gynaecologist Denis Mukwege and Yazidie Nadia Murad, who were jointly awarded last year for their fight against sexual violence.


Understand Africa's tomorrow... today

We believe that Africa is poorly represented, and badly under-estimated. Beyond the vast opportunity manifest in African markets, we highlight people who make a difference; leaders turning the tide, youth driving change, and an indefatigable business community. That is what we believe will change the continent, and that is what we report on. With hard-hitting investigations, innovative analysis and deep dives into countries and sectors, The Africa Report delivers the insight you need.

View subscription options