Why I Nominated Abiy Ahmed for the Nobel Peace Prize

A picture of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, is displayed at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway, October 11, 2019. The prize not only acknowledges the Ethiopian prime minister's commitment to peace, but encourages him to do more. (Photo: Reuters)

Aljazeera

by Awol K Allo

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded the 100th Nobel Peace Prize to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Dr Abiy Ahmed Ali, for “his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation” and for his “decisive initiative” to end the long-running military stalemate with neighbouring Eritrea.

I was one of the people who nominated Abiy Ahmed – not just for his remarkable achievements, but also for his profound commitment to the cause of peace and friendly relations among nations in the Horn of Africa and beyond.

In the nomination letter, I wrote: “By saving a nation of 108 million people from the precipice of an economic and political explosion, he captured the imagination of his own people and people across the African continent as an embodiment of hope … and his messages of peace, tolerance, and love and understanding are being felt far beyond Ethiopia.”

When I submitted the nomination in January 2019, Abiy had only been in office for nine months, and Ethiopia was still in the grip of Abiymania. The new prime minister had surprised Ethiopians by taking actions no one had thought possible: he opened up the political space, released thousands of political prisoners, invited members of political groups previously designated as “terrorist organisations” back home, lifted the state of emergency, removed from office intelligence and army officers seen as complicit in the oppressive practices of the previous regime, sealed a peace deal with Eritrea, appointed a gender-balanced cabinet, and took many other progressive steps.

In addition, Abiy made sustainable peace at home and in the region one of his central domestic and foreign policy objectives. He argued that a stable, peaceful and prosperous Ethiopia is inconceivable without the peace, stability and development of the wider Horn of Africa region. He often preached about peace, forgiveness, reconciliation, unity, synergy and understanding. He even established a cabinet-level ministry with a mandate to build peace and national consensus and to oversee federal law enforcement organs, including the country’s security and intelligence agencies.

At the regional level, he initiated an economic integration plan, a programme that aims to link the Horn of Africa region through joint investment in infrastructure and economically vital strategic assets with the aim of making nations and communities in the region frontline stakeholders in peace and stability.

In the process, he captured the imagination of Ethiopians and other people in the region.

While his domestic achievements were an important part of the picture, Abiy won the prize, in the words of the Nobel Committee, “for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea”.

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Related:

PM Abiy Ahmed Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Abiy Ahmed’s Nobel Peace Prize is deserved, but he still has work to do (WaPo Editorial)

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