The Nobel Peace Prize awarded today honors Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for his leadership in reaching the historic 2018 peace deal with neighboring Eritrea that brought the two nations’ “frozen war” to an end. Long considered an intractable conflict, Abiy brought new life to a peace process that had been stalled for the better part of two decades.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed during his visit to Washington, D.C. last year. (Office of Mayor Muriel Bowser/ Flickr).
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed during his visit to Washington, D.C. last year. (Office of Mayor Muriel Bowser/ Flickr).

USIP would like to extend our congratulations and appreciation to Prime Minister Abiy, who managed to rekindle dormant talks between the two neighbors. Abiy’s move provided a surge of hope for citizens of both Ethiopia and Eritrea who spent the previous 20 years isolated from one another despite immense ethnic and cultural ties.

“Prime Minister Abiy’s bold actions have made peace possible, where it was once a distant possibility,” said USIP President and CEO Nancy Lindborg. “We are both heartened and inspired by Abiy’s ability to orchestrate a breakthrough for his people and the people of Eritrea.”

The impact of this peace deal has reverberated throughout the region, as Ethiopia and Eritrea are now working together toward the resolution of long-standing regional tensions in order to build stability in the Horn of Africa.

“The Nobel Prize for Peace underlines the leadership that Prime Minister Abiy has demonstrated, particularly in his first 100 days as prime minister and in opening a dialogue to ends years of frozen conflict with Eritrea,” said Susan Stigant, USIP’s director for Africa programs. “In the coming months and years, continued leadership and courage are critical to shepherd Ethiopia through a fragile, complex transition and agreeing on a new social contract for the entire country. The Horn of Africa and world are watching with both hope and concern for Ethiopia's success.”

In addition to the historic peace agreement, the Nobel Committee praised the 43-year-old prime minister’s effect on other peace and reconciliation processes in East and North Africa, as well as the extensive domestic reforms enacted in his first 100 days in office—which included granting amnesty to political prisoners, discontinuing media censorship, legalizing outlawed opposition groups, dismissing officials suspected of corruption, and significantly increasing the influence of women in Ethiopian society.

USIP believes that peace is possible, practical, and above all, a process. Abiy has shown that even in the most protracted of conflicts, where optimism for peace is waning, it can be achieved if people remain committed to those principles.

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