Dr. Abiy Ahmed, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, was recently announced the winner of the 100th Nobel Peace Prize. The award, selected by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, was given to Ahmed for “his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighboring Eritrea.”
Ahmed became the Prime Minister of Ethiopia in April 2018 and immediately set his sights on resolving the two-decade long border war between Ethiopia and northern neighbor Eritrea. There has been a bloody history between the two as Eritrean separatists fought for thirty years to get independence from Ethiopia, which was eventually recognized by the United Nations who granted membership in 1993. The conflict continued, however, with no consensus being reached on determining the border. Eritrea’s intention to annex the contested town of Badme in 1998 triggered Ethiopia to launch full retaliatory forces, and the resulting war has resulted in hundreds of thousands of casualties to date.
Two of the poorest nations in the world getting into an expensive and bloody war has been one of the great tragedies in recent African history. But when Ahmed was elected in April 2018, he believed in resolve and said that he would immediately work towards implementing the conditions of the 2000 Algiers Peace Accord and would also accept UN-backed boundaries, which in effect gave most of the disputed territory to Eritrea. The previous stubbornness on both sides to cede territory prevented progress and resulted in thousands of unnecessary deaths. But by showing that the decisions would benefit both nations, Ahmed was able to facilitate regional peace and ignite new bonds between the two.
On top of his efforts to facilitate peace with Eritrea, Ahmed has majorly stabilized internal social and economic conditions. He showed the world his class when handling members of the military who demanded salary increases by doing press-ups with them outside his government office. In addition, he is now showing great vision for Ethiopia by granting foreign businesses licenses to operate and facilitating the liberalization of the economy. The further announcement of a large reform plan is hoped to produce a strong private sector with a focus on expanding in key sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing, which will in turn intend to create jobs and lower national debt levels.
Dr. Ahmed’s achievements demonstrated over such a small period of time in office should be seen as an example of how to rewrite the history of a poor and conflict-ridden nation by using peace as the guiding force for leadership.
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