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Ethiopia's Christian Prime Minister Wins Nobel Peace Prize for Helping to Reconcile Ethiopia, Eritrea

  • Amanda Casanova

    Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and…

  • 2019 Oct 15

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has earned the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in the country.

Ahmed has been in the role less than two years, but is credited with helping the country find reconciliation and dissolving a border conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

“Even if much work remains, Abiy Ahmed has initiated important reforms that give many citizens hope for a better life and a brighter future,” the Nobel Committee said in a statement.

Ahmed, 43, became the prime minister in April 2018. Since taking the position, he signed a peace accord with the president of Eritrea, opening air travel and telecommunications between the two countries.

Eritrea and Ethiopia have long been at odds with each other, including violence and attacks that cost 80,000 lives along the border.

“He spent his first 100 days as Prime Minister lifting the country’s state of emergency, granting amnesty to thousands of political prisoners, discontinuing media censorship, legalizing outlawed opposition groups, dismissing military and civilian leaders who were suspected of corruption, and significantly increasing the influence of women in Ethiopian political and community life,” the Nobel committee also said. “He has also pledged to strengthen democracy by holding free and fair elections.”

Ahmed also helped two branches of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church reconcile after the church split in 1991, Christianity Today reports.

Ahmed is a Protestant Pentecostal and attends Full Gospel Believers’ Church.

“There is something of the revivalist preacher in the way he evangelizes for his vision,” BBC said in a report. “He has the energy, the passion and the certainty.”

In response to the announcement of his Nobel Peace Prize, Ahmed tweeted, “I am humbled by the decision of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. My deepest gratitude to all committed and working for peace. This award is for Ethiopia and the African continent. We shall prosper in peace.”

Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Sean Gallup/Staff