The 43-year-old African leader of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed received this year’s Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to resolve the 20-year conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The Norwegian Nobel Committee lauded Ahmed’s conviction to put an end to the war that ravaged the Horn of Africa.
Abiy was among the Nobel Peace Prize crowd favorites along with the teenage activist, Greta Thunberg, and Brazilian indigenous chief Raoni Metuktire. Abiy Ahmed ultimately wins the prestigious award with his unrelenting determination to address the border-conflict that plagued both countries for two decades.
In his recent tweet, after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Abiy expressed his gratitude to the committee and all those committed and working for peace.
The longstanding animosity between Ethiopians and Eritreans brought a newfound start for the two countries to prosper. Right after the war’s conclusion, the two countries immediately restored their diplomatic and trade ties. Both figureheads from the two countries have already planned joint projects.
The resounding peace these two countries enjoy is miles away from their bloody past. The brutal war’s body count tallied at least 100,000, which resulted in the displacement of civilians and natives from both countries. As a result, both Ethiopia and Eritrea’s economy plummeted. Together with cold-war politics, drought, and food shortages, the disruptive climate further plunged into a steep descent.
Abiy Ahmed was Ethiopia’s first prime minister that came from the Oromo ethnic group. After the African leader’s victory, he made an audacious decision to free many of the country’s well-known political prisoners, condemned torture, and ordered the release of imprisoned journalists. The African leader met with key figures of the opposition and even visited Oromiya, the heart of the heated anti-government protests.
When Abiy Ahmed became Ethiopia’s prime minister in 2018, he pioneered reforms and peace negotiations with Eritrea’s president, Isaias Afwerki. In his first three months in office, Ahmed created an atmosphere of peace by handing over a disputed border town to Eritrea, fulfilling the terms of a neglected peace agreement back in 2000.
Shortly after, disconnected phone lines between the two countries were revived. Ethiopians and Eritreans were able to call each other without the fear of punishment. On September 11, 2018, the borders of each country were opened. Families separated by the horrors of war were finally reunited. In his term, Ahmed also received high praise and admiration in his successful attempt in a power-sharing deal with Sudan.
Since the 1980s, Ethiopians have been fleeing the country to escape its turmoil. This era was filled with bloodshed and human rights abuses, skyrocketing the number of refugees fleeing the country. Today, Ethiopia Airlines is now flying weekly to Asmara, Eritrea’s capital. Ethiopians abroad now consider returning back home with new reforms changing the tides at home.
“Peace is a very expensive commodity in my country” The Noble Peace Prize African leader said in a phone interview with the Nobel Peace Prize committee. Ahmed’s victory ushered a new era for both Ethiopia and Eritrea. He initiated policies and changes that gave many citizens for a better life and a brighter future.
It has only been 18 months since Ahmed was appointed, and despite his recent accolade, he still has work cut out for him. But one thing’s for sure—it wouldn’t hurt for other world leaders to emulate Ahmed’s steps.
Here is the video the moment the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced the Nobel Prize winner: