The 2019 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who made peace last year with bitter foe Eritrea.
He was awarded the prize for his efforts to “achieve peace and international cooperation”.
Mr Abiy’s peace deal with Eritrea ended a 20-year military stalemate following their 1998-2000 border war.
He was named as the winner of the 100th Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, where he will receive the award in December.
It is worth some nine million Swedish crowns (about £730,000; $900,000).
Following the announcement, Mr Abiy said he was “humbled and thrilled”.
“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 added in a phone call with the secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
Listen to the call between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali and Olav Njølstad, Secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, recorded shortly after the announcement of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.#NobelPrizehttps://t.co/kZ9rRXBzIw
— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 11, 2019
A total of 301 candidates had been nominated for the prestigious award, including 223 individuals and 78 organisations.
There had been great speculation over who would win the prize, with climate activist Greta Thunberg widely tipped as the favourite. Under the Nobel Foundation’s rules, nomination shortlists are not allowed to be published for 50 years, and the organisation says any speculation ahead of the announcement is “sheer guesswork”.
What has Abiy Ahmed done?
After becoming prime minister in April 2018, Mr Abiy introduced massive liberalising reforms to Ethiopia, shaking up what was a tightly controlled nation.
He freed thousands of opposition activists from jail and allowed exiled dissidents to return home. Under him, several women have also been appointed to prominent positions.
Most importantly, he signed the peace deal with Eritrea.
But his reforms also lifted the lid on Ethiopia’s ethnic tensions, and the resulting violence forced some 2.5 million people from their homes.
Why did he win?
Mr Abiy, 43, was honoured for his “decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea”, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said.
“The prize is also meant to recognise all the stakeholders working for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia and in the East and Northeast African regions,” they said.
“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.”
Since the Eritrea deal, Mr Abiy – the youngest head of government in Africa – has also been involved in peace processes in other African countries, the committee said. This has included helping to broker an agreement between Sudan’s military leaders and civilian opposition after months of protests.
Mr Abiy’s office said the award was testimony “to the ideals of unity, cooperation and mutual coexistence that the prime minister has been consistently championing”.