Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was on Friday awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to resolve his country’s conflict with bitter foe Eritrea, the Nobel Committee said.
Abiy was honored “for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighboring Eritrea,” the jury said.
Since becoming Ethiopian prime minister in April 2018, Ethiopian PM has aggressively pursued policies that have the potential to upend his country’s society and reshape dynamics beyond its borders.
— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 11, 2019
Within just six months of his swearing-in, Abiy made peace with bitter foe Eritrea, released dissidents from jail, apologized for state brutality, and welcomed home exiled armed groups branded “terrorists” by his predecessors.
More recently he has turned to fleshing out his vision for the economy while laying the groundwork for elections currently scheduled to take place next May.
But analysts fret that his policies are, simultaneously, too much too fast for the political old guard, and too little too late for the country’s angry youth, whose protests swept him to power.
Despite the challenges, Abiy’s allies predict his deep well of personal ambition will prompt him to keep swinging big.
Tareq Sabt, a businessman and friend of Abiy’s, says one of the first things that struck him when they met was the prime minister’s drive: “I always said to friends, when this guy comes to power, you’ll see a lot of change in Ethiopia.”
Born in the western town of Beshasha to a Muslim father and Christian mother, Abiy “grew up sleeping on the floor” in a house that lacked electricity and running water.