Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed receives Nobel Peace Prize; brings east Africa in focus
December 13, 2019

IAT Bureau / New Delhi

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, 43, received the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 2019 at Oslo for his efforts towards resolving the long-running conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The Nobel Peace Prize consists of a diploma, gold medal and a cheque for nine million Swedish kronor ($945,000).

“I accept this award on behalf of Ethiopians and Eritreans, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of peace,” Abiy said on Tuesday after he received the prestigious award in a formal ceremony at Oslo’s City Hall.

“Likewise, I accept this award on behalf of my partner, and comrade-in-peace, President Isaias Afwerki, whose goodwill, trust and commitment were vital in ending the two-decade deadlock between our countries,” he added.

“We understood our nations are not enemies. Instead, we were victims of the common enemy called poverty,” he said.

In one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts between Ethiopia and Eritrea more than 80,000 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands were forced from their homes from 1998 onwards. Though a United Nations-backed peace deal in 2000 awarded the disputed border territories to Eritrea, but the agreement was never implemented and skirmishes continued. However, just two months after becoming prime minister Abiy announced that Ethiopia would fully accept the terms of a peace agreement with longtime foe Eritrea. Following the rapprochement, Abiy visited Asmara, becoming the first Ethiopian leader to visit Eritrea in two decades. On July 9, 2018, following a historic meeting in Eritrea’s capital Asmara, Abiy and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki formally ended a 20-year-old stalemate between their countries in the wake of the 1998-2000 border conflict. The two countries soon resumed flights and re-established phone lines. But the land border between the two East African countries still remains closed.

Back at home, tens of thousands of Ethiopians lined the streets of the capital, Addis Ababa, to welcome Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed upon his return from receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. People wore clothes displaying their leader’s image and chanted slogans praising Abiy.

“The award has helped to draw attention to Ethiopia, Eritrea and the east Africa region,” Abiy said shortly after arriving at Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport. “I hope we will celebrate this milestone in Eritrea soon.”

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