Nobel for Abiy, a well-deserved honour - GulfToday

Nobel for Abiy, a well-deserved honour

Nobel for Abiy, a well-deserved honour

Abiy Ahmed

The naming of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize is a creditable decision as the visionary leader had taken valiant efforts to achieve peace and strengthen international cooperation by resolving a long-running conflict with neighbouring foe, Eritrea.

His proactive decisions soon after coming to power last year sparked a historic rapprochement between the two nations.

The 43-year-old leader has assertively pursued policies that have the potential to upend society in the Horn of Africa nation and reshape dynamics beyond its borders, after years of civil unrest.

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 in the wake of the 1998-2000 border conflict.

Abiy promptly released dissidents from jail, apologised for state brutality, and welcomed home exiled armed groups.

His other diplomatic efforts in the long-turbulent region, including in Sudan and between rivals such as Somalia and Kenya, have also been widely praised by many across the world.

Abiy oversaw the appointment of a gender-equal cabinet and the country’s first woman president.

His government has promised to liberalise the bureaucratic, state-controlled economy, lifted ban on many political parties and even dismissed or arrested many senior officials accused of corruption, torture or murder.

Such actions have sparked optimism in a region of Africa often marred by violence.

The Nobel jury has made it clear that the Peace Prize is also meant to recognise all the stakeholders working for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia and in the East and Northeast African regions.

It has singled out the Eritrean leader for praise, noting that peace does not arise from the actions of one party alone.

It is not that all hurdles have been crossed. The border between the two countries has once again been closed, the countries still lack trade agreements and Ethiopia — a land-locked country — still has no access to Eritrean ports. And last June, Abiy faced the greatest threat yet to his hold on power when gunmen assassinated high-ranking officials including a prominent regional president and the army chief.

Abiy also faces high expectations from young Ethiopians who want jobs, development and opportunities.

However, as the Nobel Committee explained, while much remains to be done, the award should serve as an encouragement.

Prize creator Alfred Nobel had set a criteria pointing out that the award should go to one “who has made the most significant contribution to peace within the past year.”

Winning the Nobel will undoubtedly give Abiy a prestige that will add to his power of leverage. The award should serve as an inspiration for other African leaders to work on peace-building process on the continent.

Incidentally, this year’s is the 100th Nobel Peace Prize award since 1901, when Henry Dunant, a founder of the Red Cross, and the French parliamentarian and peace activist Frederic Passy shared the first one. No awards were made on 19 occasions, including during the two world wars.

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has mentioned on Twitter: “My sincere congratulations to my dear friend Dr Abiy Ahmed @PMEthiopia on winning the #NobelPeacePrize. He is a wise man who has brought peace and hope to his country and region. The prize is a well-deserved honour for an extraordinary leader.”

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