Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, has won the 2019 Nobel Prize for Peace, ahead of 301 candidates that included 16-year-old Swedish climate-change activist Greta Thunberg who was widely considered to be the favorite.
The award highlights Prime Minister Abiy’s efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and, in particular, for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea, ending 20 years of hostility and restoring diplomatic relations and normal ties between the countries.
Abiy Ahmed captured Africa and the world’s imagination with the remarkable reforms he’s embarked on since resuming office in April 2018. Under his leadership Ethiopia has overhauled its government that saw women occupying half the cabinet posts; appointed its first female president in modern history; sworn in its first female Supreme Court Chief Justice; made its electoral board independent; signed a peace deal with Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) rebels from its gas-rich Somali Region; and achieved so much more.
Abiy Ahmed was also one of five Africans in the Times 100 list this year. Feyisa Lilesa, Olympic-medalist marathoner from Ethiopia, in his tribute wrote:
“In Ethiopian history, we have never seen a leader like him. He’s an educated person who talks about unity. He has released thousands of people from jail. He brought peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea after 20 years of war. And he made it possible for me to come home. Yes, people are still protesting. But now, when they protest, they aren’t going to jail. To me, that is democracy. That is hope.”
Just like Feyisa, Ethiopia must continue to hope this is finally the man who can get the job done.