Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, has won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for ending the longstanding border dispute between his country and Eritrea.
Ahmed last year signed a peace pact with Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki to end the hostilities that began with a two-year border war in 1998, deteriorating into 18 years of stalemated relations.
The border town of Badme was the flashpoint for the conflict, resulting in the death of tens of thousands.
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Announcing Ahmed as the winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen, said the award was to recognize Ahmed’s “efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation and in particular his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighboring Eritrea”.
Potential winners for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize included the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, Jacinda Arden for her swift response to the Christchurch shooting.
Also Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev, the prime ministers of Greece and North Macedonia respectively, who ended 30 years of acrimony between their countries were considered.
Ninety-nine individuals and 24 organizations have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prizes since 1901. Last year, the award went to Congolese gynecologist Denis Mukwege and Yazidi activist Nadia Murad – for their relentless fight against sexual violence.
Three hundred and one candidates were put forward for this year’s award. The Committee will make public their names after 50 years.
Earlier this year, Ahmed was named as laureate of the 2019 edition of the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize for his activities in instigating the peace agreement between his country and longtime adversary, Eritrea.
He was declared the winner of the award by Audrey Azoulay, the Director-General of UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at the 2019 World Press Freedom Day global conference in Addis Ababa.
After the July peace pact, families that were displaced by the conflict returned to rebuild their homes in the once-contested areas.
Ethiopia in September last year reopened its embassy in the Eritrean capital after the July peace accord to restore ties after the two nations ended decades of conflict.
“When Abiy Ahmed became prime minister, 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 Nobel Peace committee said.