Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for “for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighboring Eritrea.”
The Nobel committee said during its announcement Friday that the coveted prize was also meant to recognize all the stakeholders working for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia and in the East and Northeast African regions.
Ahmed clinched a peace deal with Eritrea President Isaias Afwerki last year that ended 20 years of the “no peace, no war” stalemate between the two countries.
According to TIME, at least 70,000 people were killed since the border disputes began in 1998, five years after Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia.
Although thousands of political prisoners have been freed since Ahmed took office in April 2018, Ethiopia’s internal issues still divide the country.
The Nobel committee acknowledged this in its announcement saying that even if much work remains in the unstable country, Ahmed had initiated important reforms that give “many citizens hope for a better life and a brighter future.”
The African country faces elections next year.
The Norwegian Nobel Institute said they still haven’t been able to get a hold of the Ethiopian leader.
The committee received nominations for 223 individuals and 78 organizations for the Swedish 9-million kronor, or $918,000, award. The list is kept secret for 50 years.
Last year’s winners were Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege and Yazidi Kurdish activist Nadia Murad for “their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.”
Although the list can’t be confirmed for another five decades, teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern were also predicted frontrunners for the prize.
President Donald Trump was also nominated for the 2019 prize by U.S. Republican congressional members for his efforts at securing denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.
Past winners who came under criticism include former U.S. President Barack Obama, who won in 2009 after less than a year in office for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” Critics interpreted his win as a political repudiation of George W. Bush’s presidency.