Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to resolve his country’s conflict with long-time rival Eritrea.
Abiy Ahmed was honoured “for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea,” the jury said.
His office in Addis Ababa reacted to the announcement by saying that Ethiopia was “proud as a nation,” adding that the honour was a “timeless testimony to the ideals of unity, co-operation and mutual co-existence that the Prime Minister has been consistently championing.”
The international rights group Amnesty International welcomed the news, saying the Nobel win must spur Abiy to “further rights reforms”.
“This award should push and motivate him to tackle the outstanding human rights challenges that threaten to reverse the gains made so far,” the group said, pointing to ongoing ethnic tensions that endanger stability.
The son of poor villagers, a spy boss, and now the man driving efforts to reform Africa’s fastest-growing economy and heal wounds with Ethiopia’s neighbours, Abiy Ahmed has seen an unpredictable and peril-strewn rise to fame.
WIELDING THE TWO-EDGED SWORD OF REFORM
Since becoming Ethiopian prime minister in April 2018, the 43-year-old has aggressively pursued policies that have the potential to upend his country’s society and reshape dynamics beyond its borders.
Six months after his swearing-in, Abiy made peace with bitter foe Eritrea, released dissidents from jail, apologised for state brutality, and welcomed home exiled armed groups branded “terrorists” by his predecessors.
More recently he has turned to fleshing out his vision for the economy while laying the groundwork for elections currently scheduled to take place next May.
But analysts suggest that his policies are, simultaneously, too much too fast for the political old guard, and too little too late for the country’s angry youth, whose protests swept him to power.