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“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.
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