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Ethiopia PM named Nobel Laureate

25th Oct 2019
Ethiopia PM named Nobel Laureate

Abiy Ahmed Ali (Photo: Aron Simeneh/PM Office)

Nadine Osman

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed Ali, became the ninth Muslim and tenth African to win the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this month. At 43, he is also the youngest leader in Africa to become a Nobel laureate. The former intelligence officer won this year’s Prize for “his efforts to achieve international peace and co-operation.”

Announcing the decision on October 11, Berit Reiss-Andersen, the Norwegian Nobel Committee Chair, said the award was in recognition of Ali’s “efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.”

In response to the announcement, Ali’s office said: “This victory and recognition is a collective win for all Ethiopians and a call to strengthen our resolve in making Ethiopia ‘the new horizon of hope’ a prosperous nation for all.”

Elected in April last year, one of Ali’s biggest victories was the peace deal, signed in July last year, which ended a nearly 20-year military stalemate with Eritrea following their 1998-2000 border war. Ali has ushered in an era of hope for peace and greater freedoms in Africa’s second-most populous country, which has long been governed by authoritarian regimes.

The former intelligence officer initiated the release of thousands of political prisoners, unbanned various political organisations, prosecuted former officials accused of torture and vowed to move Ethiopia toward its first free, multiparty elections in 2020.

“When Abiy Ahmed became Prime Minster, he made it clear he wished to resume peace talks with Eritrea … In close cooperation with the President of Eritrea, he quickly worked out the principles for a peace agreement,” the committee said.
The coveted honour was also in recognition of other efforts by the reformist leader towards reconciliation in the region, including Kenya, Somalia and Sudan.

In neighbouring Sudan and South Sudan, both beset by civil conflict, Ali’s personally spearheaded rounds of talks between opposing sides, reestablishing Ethiopia’s potential as a regional power broker. Ali had been the bookmakers’ second favourite to win the prize, after 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. The prize, worth £720,000 will be presented in Oslo on December 10.

Other Muslim recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize

1978 Muhammad Anwar el-Sadat (Egypt)
1994: Yasser Arafat (Palestine)
2003: Shirin Ebadi (Iran)
2005: Mohamed ElBaradei (Egypt)
2006: Muhammad Yunus (Bangladesh)
2011: Tawakkul Karman (Yemen)
2014: Malala Yousafzai (Pakistan)
2015: Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet

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