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    Nobel Peace Prize: Ethiopia PM Abiy Ahmed wins

    October 11, 2019

    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).
    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. 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.
    Mr Abiy 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."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."
    Mr Abiy was born in southern Ethiopia's Jima Zone in 1976 to an Oromo Muslim father and an Amhara Christian mother.He has several degrees, including a doctorate degree in peace and security issues from Addis Ababa University and a master's degree in transformational leadership from the University of Greenwich, London.As a teenager, he joined the armed struggle against the former Dergue regime and eventually rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel, focusing on intelligence and communications services.
    During the 1998-2000 border dispute with Eritrea, he led a spy team on a reconnaissance mission into areas held by the Eritrean Defence Forces.He joined politics in 2010, becoming a member of the Oromo People's Democratic Organization, before being elected as a member of parliament.His tenure in parliament coincided with clashes between Muslims and Christians. He devised a lasting solution to the problem by setting up a "Religious Forum for Peace".He is currently the youngest head of government in Africa.
    Former US President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples".Other notable Nobel Peace Prize winners include former US President Jimmy Carter (2002), child education activist Malala Yousafzai (shared 2014), the European Union (2012), the United Nations and its then-general-secretary, Kofi Annan, (shared 2001) and Mother Teresa (1979).
    The recipient of each Nobel prize receives three things:
    a Nobel diploma, each of which is a unique work of art
    a Nobel medal, which has differing designs
    a cash prize of 9m Swedish krona - which is split between winners when there is more than one. They have to deliver a lecture to receive the money
    The prizes are presented at ceremonies on 10 December in Stockholm and Oslo.

    Nobel Peace Prize: Why is it so important?
    1 hour ago
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    Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has won this year's Nobel Peace Prize for "his efforts to achieve international peace and co-operation".

    This year's Nobel Peace Prize is the 100th to be awarded, but why is it so prestigious and who are some of the previous winners?

    Who are some of the famous past winners?
    Barack Obama (right) with his Nobel Peace Prize alongside Thorbjoern Jagland, of Norway's Nobel Committee
    Former US President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples".
    President Obama said he was "surprised and deeply humbled" and would use it as a "call to action". However, there was criticism of his award, especially as he had been in office for only 12 days before the nomination deadline.
    Other notable Nobel Peace Prize winners include former US President Jimmy Carter (2002), child education activist Malala Yousafzai (shared 2014), the European Union (2012), the United Nations and its then-general-secretary, Kofi Annan, (shared 2001) and Saint Teresa of Calcutta (1979).
    Albert Einstein (physics 1921),Marie Curie (physics 1903 and chemistry 1911), and Harold Pinter (literature 2005) have also received Nobel Prizes.
    Two people - author and philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre in 1964 and Vietnamese politician Le Duc Tho in 1973 - rejected the prize, and four others were forced to decline by their countries.
    In 2016, there was uncertainty over whether singer Bob Dylan would accept the literature award before he finally delivered his lecture for the prize in June.
    Nobel Prize in numbers
    Statistics from 1901 to 2018

    935Nobel Laureates (908 people, 27 organisations)

    17Age of youngest winner - education activist Malala Yousafzai

    96Age of oldest winner - scientist Arthur Ashkin

    52Prizes won by women

    6People who declined an award

    Source: Nobel Prize website
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    What other Nobel Prizes are awarded?
    The Nobel Prize is a series of annual awards given in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and peace.

    They are awarded to people "who have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind" in the previous 12 months.

    The quote is from the will of Swedish businessman - and inventor of dynamite - Alfred Nobel. He left most of his fortune in a fund to launch the awards, which were first presented in 1901.

    In 1968, an economic sciences prize was added by Sweden's central bank, although it does not count as a Nobel Prize.

    How does the Nobel Prize work?
    Different organisations award the prize in each category every year. Five of the six are chosen in Sweden, while the Nobel Peace Prize is selected in Norway.

    Academics, university professors, scientists, previous winners and others all submit nominations. Under the Nobel Foundation's rules, the shortlists are not allowed to be published for 50 years.

    Prize winners are called laureates, to signify the laurel wreath given to victors of contests in ancient Greece.

    More than one, but no more than three, people can win each prize.


    Media captionHow do you choose a Nobel Prize winner?
    There have been some years when the prize has not been awarded - mostly during the two world wars.

    And Nobel Foundation rules state if nobody deserves the prize in a particular category, it is not awarded and its prize money is kept for the following year.

    What do the winners receive?
    The recipient of each prize receives three things:

    a Nobel diploma, each of which is a unique work of art
    a Nobel medal, which have some differing designs
    a cash prize of 9m Swedish krona (£741,000) - which is split between winners when there is more than one. They have to deliver a lecture to receive the money
    The prizes are presented at ceremonies on 10 December, the anniversary of Nobel's death, in Stockholm and Oslo.

    What have some prize winners bought with their winnings?
    Marie and Pierre Curie used their physics prize money in 1903 for further scientific research, and 2006 physics winner John Mather donated his cash to his foundation.

    In 1993, British biochemist Richard Roberts spent his medicine winnings on a croquet lawn and fellow 1993 laureate Phillip Sharp bought a 100-year-old Federal-style house. The 2001 medicine winner, Sir Paul Nurse, bought himself a high-end motorbike.

    Meanwhile, 2006 literature laureate Orhan Pamuk established a museum in Istanbul.

    Who are the 2019 winners so far?
    medicine: Sir Peter Ratcliffe, William Kaelin and Gregg Semenza
    physics: James Peebles, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz
    chemistry: John B Goodenough, M Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino
    literature: Peter Handke (2019); Olga Tokarczuk (2018 - but awarded this year)

    Abiy Ahmed: The leader promising to heal a nation
    3 January 2019
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    Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has been widely praised for introducing sweeping reforms aimed at ending political repression, writes BBC Africa editor Fergal Keane after visiting the country.

    The crowd at the airport in Jimma in Ethiopia's Oromia region was handpicked and universally rapturous.

    But these were not the praise-singing party hacks who so often grace the arrivals and departures of powerful men in Africa.

    Men and women, old, young and very young - beaming babies were held above the crowd - had gathered to witness the arrival of a political sensation.

    "We are so very happy," an elderly man shouted to me above the sound of the military band, "it is like a renaissance. We have waited so long for this."

    Shift from autocracy
    Then Abiy Ahmed was among us, descending the steps of his plane to delighted cheers, testing the nerves of his security detail as he reached into the crowd to kiss a baby here, embrace an old man there.

    I was conscious of an extraordinary fusion between the driven energy of an individual and the hope of a nation. Africa has rarely seen anyone like him.

    Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
    Image caption
    Pro-democracy activists have welcomed the changes in Ethiopia
    At 42 he is the youngest leader on the continent but his impact is far greater than his age suggests.

    When the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition elected him prime minister nine months ago the country, Africa's second largest in terms of population with more than 100 million people, shifted decisively from a long period of autocracy.

    He ended a 20-year conflict with neighbouring Eritrea, freed thousands of political prisoners, unfettered the media and appointed women to half the cabinet posts.

    Parliament also accepted his female nominees for president and head of the supreme court.

    On top of that, he asked a dissident leader to return from exile in the United States to run the electoral commission.

    The pace of change has delighted pro-democracy activists and thrown more reactionary elements off balance.

    Fourteen years ago, Birtukan Mideksa spent 18 months in prison as leader of an opposition party before leaving for exile in the US.

    She was as surprised as most observers when Mr Abiy invited her to return and chair the National Election Board.

    "Thousands, if not millions, of people paid [a heavy price] to see this kind of change in this country… to see this opening," Ms Birtukan told me.

    "To have a former opposition leader, former dissident, to lead an institution with significant independence of action... means a lot.

    "For those people who paid a price in the process, it's really significant," Ms Birtukan added.

    'Use ideas not weapons'
    But change has inevitably emphasised the significant challenges still facing Mr Abiy.

    When I caught up with him at a graduation ceremony for medical students in Jimma he appealed to them to "use ideas not weapons" and to follow the example of a nation like Japan, which recovered from World War Two to build a sophisticated economy.

    Key facts: Abiy Ahmed

    Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
    Born to a Muslim father and a Christian mother on 15 August 1976
    Speaks fluent Afan Oromo, Amharic, Tigrinya and English
    Joined the armed struggle against the Marxist Derg regime in 1990
    Served as a UN peacekeeper in Rwanda in 1995
    Entered politics in 2010
    Briefly served as minister of science and technology in 2016
    Became prime minister in April 2018
    Ethiopia has one of the fastest growing economies in the world but still has a vast number of unemployed young people.

    This is both a reservoir of potential talent and potential dissent if Mr Abiy's moves to liberalise the economy and tackle corruption do not succeed swiftly.

    The prime minister was addressing the graduates in Jimma against a backdrop of deepening ethnic conflicts across the country.

    Ethiopia has more than 80 different ethnic groups.

    The divisions are old and deep rooted, but they flared up with a new intensity in the first half of last year when 1.4 million people were forced to flee ethnic conflict in the west of the country, according to the UN.

    Overall, some 2.8 million people have been uprooted from their homes in recent years. The other major concern is the fighting on the borders of the Oromia and Somali regions.

    Over decades, the central government used force and a whole battery of repressive legislation to quell ethnic unrest.

    Predictably, this merely gave an impression of national cohesion while unaddressed grievances festered. They erupted into protest in 2016.

    'Steel in Abiy's voice'
    Demonstrations by members of the Oromo community - Ethiopia's largest ethnic group - precipitated the resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and the election of Mr Abiy.

    Mr Abiy is the first leader to come from the Oromo community but has stressed that he is a leader for all Ethiopians.

    When I caught up with him in Jimma I asked if he was the man to unite an increasingly divided country.

    He was being ushered away from the crowds by his guards but the question made him pause.

    Looking around he caught my eye and shouted above the noise: "Of course I am. No doubt about it!" There was steel in the voice. And then the smile returned.

    Last month, Mr Abiy established a reconciliation commission to deal with some of the issues.

    This may provide an outlet for the airing of uncomfortable truths about the past but the greater challenge is the federal constitution which divides regional government along ethnic lines.

    Respecting ethnic rights while fostering the idea of a nation will demand considerable political and legal sure-footedness.

    Abiy's reforms in 2018
    Image copyrightAFP
    Image caption
    People celebrated as the land border between Ethiopia and Eritrea was reopened
    May - frees thousands of political detainees
    June - lifts state of emergency
    July - alongside the Eritrean president declares the end of war between the two nations
    September - reopens land border with Eritrea
    October - appoints women to half of ministerial posts
    November - appoints ex-opposition leader to head electoral commission
    In the Tigray region, in the north, there have been ominous stirrings.

    Although Tigrayans compose only a small percentage of the population they dominated the previous government.

    In recent months, prominent Tigrayans in the army, security services, as well as business figures, have been accused of human rights abuses and corruption.

    Travelling in Tigray one frequently hears concerns about the alleged marginalisation of the once-powerful group.

    A former communications minister, Getachew Reda, told me he thought Tigrayans were being turned into scapegoats.

    It was as if only Tigrayan leaders were responsible for past abuses under the ruling coalition, he said.

    Although still calling himself a friend of Mr Abiy he believes the young leader risks creating a failed state.

    "He symbolises the kind of ambition, the kind of courage to storm the heavens that youth would represent.

    "But he also represents the kind of tendency to gloss over things, the kind of tendency to try to telescope decades into months, years… to rush things."

    For the moment Mr Abiy has the momentum and no shortage of energy.

    Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
    Image caption
    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed plans to steer the nation to elections in 2020
    Even in Tigray, the ordinary citizens I spoke to saw him as an inspirational figure.

    Elsa Tesfaye is a small-holder farmer who lives close to the border with Eritrea and lost a brother to the war between the two nations.

    For her Mr Abiy is the man who brought peace "and I thank him for that".

    'Revivalist preacher'
    She worries about ethnic divisions and whether her son - an engineering student - will be able to work in other parts of the country if the situation deteriorates.

    "[The reforms] are great. But it still needs a bit of work. If ethnic conflict… and hate could be removed I would be satisfied."

    Mr Abiy is a devout Pentecostal Christian and there is something of the revivalist preacher in the way he evangelises for his vision. He has the energy, the passion and the certainty.
    The question is whether he can prevent an escalation of conflicts without resorting to the repressive methods of the past, and maintain his reformist momentum up to the next elections in 2020.
    efore he left Jimma I managed to speak with Mr Abiy again.

    He greeted me with a traditional embrace and kiss. This was Mr Abiy being the consummate politician.

    The world should look at the example of Ethiopia, he told me, to see how people can live together in peace. Given the vast numbers of displaced it seemed more a statement of ambition than reflective of any current reality.

    But on the central question of reform he was adamant.

    "Would anything stop you?" I asked.

    "Not at all," he replied with a vehemence that left no room for doubt

    Last modified on Friday, 11 October 2019 19:12

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