Ethiopia’s evangelical Prime Minister has been awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize for the efforts he put in to “achieve peace and international cooperation.”
Prime Minister Abiy who is a devout Christian is the youngest head of state in Africa, and now the first sitting Prime Minister of Ethiopia to win the Nobel Peace Prize. He has been praised immensely for his efforts in bringing forward a peace agreement with neighboring Eritrea. The two countries had been embroiled in a territory-based political and military standoff for about 20 years, following the Eritrean-Ethiopian War of 1998-2000 — a conflict that claimed the lives of some 100,000 people.
The 2018 Eritrea–Ethiopia peace summit took place only three months after Ahmed was sworn into office — a gigantic political milestone, given that the United Nations, despite engaging in an expensive eight-year long peacekeeping mission across the border region, was not able to achieve peace. The UN’s Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) was formally abandoned in 2008 after peacekeepers were sent packing from the area by Eritrea.
The new peace agreement, signed by Ahmed and the Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, brought a formal end to the border conflict between both countries, restored their diplomatic relations and opened up the two countries’ borders to each other for the free movement of people, goods and services, reports Faithwire.
“Abiy Ahmed has initiated important reforms that give many citizens hope for a better life and a brighter future,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee stated in the announcement of their winner, noting that they awarded him the prize for his “decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighboring Eritrea.”
The committee’s statement continued:
“Peace does not arise from the actions of one party alone. When Prime Minister Abiy reached out his hand, President Afwerki grasped it, and helped to formalise the peace process between the two countries. The Norwegian Nobel Committee hopes the peace agreement will help to bring about positive change for the entire populations of Ethiopia and Eritrea.”
In response, Ahmed said he was “humbled and thrilled” at the honor.
“Thank you very much. It is a prize given to Africa, given to Ethiopia and I can imagine how the rest of Africa’s leaders will take it positively to work on [the] peace-building process on our continent,” he said in a phone call with the secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
A committed follower of Jesus, Ahmed’s peace-building goes beyond just politics — he also has a strong track record of strengthening ties in the Church. Last year, he was endowed with a special “peace and reconciliation” award by the Ethiopian Church for his assistance in reconciling two separate branches of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church after they split back in 1991.
Prime Minister Abiy is seen below winning the hearts and minds of potentially dangerous soldiers who rarely knew him and what he stood for.
Despite having a Muslim father and Orthodox mother, Ahmed is himself a Protestant Pentecostal.
Prime Minister Abiy’s Nobel Peace Prize win is seen widely as a huge victory for the body of Christ given that last year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner was Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecologist and Pentecostal pastor who helped set up a clinic for women who have been raped by rebels.