The most recent winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 was the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. He assumed office in April 2018 after months of anti-government protests that forced the previous Prime Minister to step down. Since being elected, he has introduced a lot of liberalizing reforms in Ethiopia, which was once a restricted and controlled country through his bold political, social and economic reforms. His appointment was a fundamental turning point in their peace process.
Eritrea and Ethiopia are bordering countries in Africa; Ethiopia Is landlocked and Eritrea borders the Red Sea. From 1998-2000 the two countries were at war. This war took the lives of tens of thousands of people, with a cease-fire being signed in 2000. However, the war technically did not have an end until 2018.
He has already achieved many things through his short time as Prime Minister. Some of the things he has achieved through office were:
- In his first three months in office, he announced that ONLF (The Ogaden National Liberation Front, which was once an armed group but now a political party) and other armed groups would be removed from the government’s lists of terrorist organizations. This then meant that they were able to achieve actual political activities in Ethiopia.
- He has freed thousands of oppositions activists from jail. He deemed it important that once exiled residences would return to their homes.
- He was able to make the media to operate freely and appointed women to high up positions in office.
- In October 2019, he was the only figurehead of state to win the Nobel Peace Prize since Trump was elected in 2016.
According to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Ahmed won the Nobel due to his “decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea”. Conciliation Resources said that Ahmed’s achievements in his short time in office made him an exceptional and very admirable winner of the award, and his willingness and ability to engage with armed groups has helped his country move forward. His award does not just represent his personal accomplishments toward the country though, it also acknowledges the individuals who have unwavering determination to work towards their peace and reconciliation.
Trump stated recently in a press campaign events that he should have deserved the Peace Prize for the help he did in the Middle East. He said “I’m going to tell you about the Nobel Peace Prize, I’ll tell you about that. I made a deal, I saved a country, and I just heard that the head of that country is now getting the Nobel Peace Prize for saving the country. I said: ‘What, did I have something to do with it?’ Yeah, but you know, that’s the way it is. As long as we know, that’s all that matters… I saved a big war, I’ve saved a couple of them.” Trump also has publicly stated that he was also worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in influencing Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s Supreme Leader, to stop using nuclear weapons.
However, according to the BBC, the U.S. influence was very minimal. And the country that had the greatest influence on this conflict was the United Arab Emirates because they are key players in the Horn of Africa. Saudi Arabia was also highly involved in bringing these two parties together.
Prime Minister Ahmed has no doubt achieved immense and positive changes towards Ethiopia, but there is still great work to be done to mend the damage and pain of the conflict over the years. This Peace Prize not only represents the work already achieved but also gives an important reminder to continue improving and create a better future for everyone in Ethiopia.