Humanitarian Action

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed wins Nobel Peace Prize

Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia during the Session "A Conversation with Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia" at the Annual Meeting 2019 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 23, 2019Copyright by World Economic Forum / Benedikt von Loebell

Abiy Ahmed addresses the World Economic Forum in Davos in January Image: World Economic Forum / Benedikt von Loebell

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He's Africa's youngest leader who ended a conflict that had seemed intractable for decades. And on Friday, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.

Abiy, now 43, took office in April 2018 after the resignation of his predecessor following three years of street unrest. He moved swiftly to restore relations with Eritrea that had been frozen since a 1998-2000 border war and is credited with ending the standoff.

He was also instrumental in peacemaking in Sudan, convincing the country's military rulers and opposition to restart talks, and persuading Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to back his mediation. The talks led to a power-sharing accord in August.

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Abiy won the prize 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 Nobel Committee said.

“I am so humbled and thrilled ... Thank you very much. It is a prize given to Africa, given to Ethiopia, and I can imagine how the rest of Africa’s leaders will take it positively to work on peace-building process in our continent,” Abiy told the committee.

Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, which hosted Abiy at its annual summit in Davos in January, congratulated the new Nobel laureate.

"This award is a testament to your leadership in advancing democracy in Ethiopia and ushering a new era of peace in the Horn of Africa and we are looking forward to continuing the Davos process," Schwab said.

"Your bold actions were instrumental in ending one of the oldest conflicts in the region with the peace accord signed with Eritrea last year and more recently facilitating a transition in Sudan."

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Ethiopia, with a population of over 100 million people, has Africa's fastest expanding economy; its GDP grew an estimated 8.5% in 2018. Ahmed has pursued partial liberalization of the state-controlled economy, but he still faces high expectations from young Ethiopians who want more jobs, opportunities and development.

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