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Ethiopian Prime Minister wins Nobel Peace Prize

By Edith Mutethya in Nairobi, Kenya | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2019-10-12 02:22

File photo: Abiy Ahmed, the prime minister of Ethiopia. [Photo/IC]

Abiy Ahmed, the prime minister of Ethiopia, won the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end the 20-year conflict with the neighboring Eritrea.

The announcement was made on Friday by Berit Reiss-Anderson, the chairwoman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

"The Nobel committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019, to Ahmed for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with the neighboring Eritrea," she said.

Reiss-Anderson said that, in close cooperation with Isaias Afwerki, the president of Eritrea, Ahmed worked out the principles for peace agreement to end the long no peace no stalemate between the two countries.

"Peace does not arise from the actions of one party alone," she said. "When Prime Minister Abiy reached out his hand, President Afwerki grasped it, and helped to formalize the peace process between the two countries."

Reiss-Anderson commended Abiy's achievements in his 100 days as the prime minister which included: lifting the country's state of emergency, granting amnesty to thousands of political prisoners, discontinuing media censorship, and legalizing outlawed opposition groups.

This is in addition to dismissing military and civilian leaders suspected of corruption and significantly increasing the influence of women in political and community life.

Reiss-Anderson also applauded Ahmed for his pledge to strengthen democracy by holding free and fair elections.

She said even though there is a lot to be done in Ethiopia, Ahmed has initiated important reforms that have given many citizens hope for a better life and a brighter future.

"It's no doubt that some people will think that this year's prize is awarded too early," she said. "The Nobel committee believes it is now that Ahmed's efforts deserve recognition and need encouragement."

The Nobel committee hopes that the prize will strengthen Ahmed in his important work of peace and reconciliation.

Because Ethiopia is Africa's second most populous country and east Africa's largest economy, Reiss-Anderson said its peace, stability and success will have many positive effects and will also help to strengthen fraternity among nations and people in the region.

She said the prize is also meant to recognize the stakeholders working for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia as well as east and north east Africa.

In the wake of the peace process with Eritrea, Ahmed has engaged in other peace and reconciliation processes in the east and north east Africa.

In Sept 2018, he actively participated in the normalization of diplomatic relations between Eritrea and Djibouti after many years of political hostility.

He also oversaw the first meeting in nearly two years between Salva Kiir, the president of South Sudan and his rival Riek Machar on June, 20, 2018.

Ahmed has also sought to mediate between Kenya and Somalia in their protracted conflict over rights to disputed marine area.

In a statement, the Ethiopian office of the prime minister, termed the recognition as a timeless testimony of the "medemer" ideals of unity, cooperation and mutual coexistence that Ahmed has consistently been championing.

Medemer, the Amharic equivalent for addition, but contextually used to mean synergy, is Ahmed's concept meant to unite Ethiopia.

The statement said that since Ahmed assumed political leadership in April 2018, he has made peace, forgiveness and reconciliation key policy components of his administration.

"Today, as the world takes note and celebrates his achievements through bestowing the Nobel Peace Prize, we invite all Ethiopians and the friends of Ethiopia to continue standing on the side of peace," the statement said.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, warmly congratulates the Ahmed, on being awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace 2019.

The Chairperson applauded the important global recognition of African leadership to silence the guns through African solutions to African problems as demonstrated by Ahmed, to promote stability and sustainable development in his country, in the Region and on the Continent as a whole.

The European Union also congratulated Ahmed for the win. In a statement, Federica Mogherini, the EU's foreign affairs chief said the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Ahmed is a recognition to a man of courage and to a generation of Africans working for change and reconciliation.

"His leadership in establishing a dialogue between Ethiopia and Eritrea is giving hope not only to two countries, but to the whole region and to an entire continent," Mogherini said.

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