Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019 in recognition of his efforts to end his country's long-running border conflict with Eritrea.
The Norwegian Nobel Institute on Friday also praised the "important reforms" that Abiy, Ethiopia's leader since April 2018, has launched at home.
Chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen said some people may consider it too early to give him the prize, but "it is now that Abiy Ahmed's efforts need recognition and deserve encouragement."
Abiy, 43, took office after widespread protests pressured the longtime ruling coalition and hurt one of the world's fastest growing economies. Africa's youngest leader quickly announced dramatic reforms and "Abiymania" began.
In a move that caused surprise in the long-turbulent Horn of Africa region, he said Ethiopia would accept a peace agreement with Eritrea, ending one of Africa's longest-running conflicts.
Within weeks, Eritrea's longtime leader, visibly moved, visited Addis Ababa and communications and transport links were restored. For the first time in two decades people could, long-divided families made tearful reunions.
The improving relations led to the lifting of United Nations sanctions on Eritrea, one of the world's most reclusive nations. But Ethiopia's reforms appear not to have inspired any in Eritrea, which has since closed border posts with its neighbor.
At home, Abiy offered one political surprise after another. He released tens of thousands of prisoners, welcomed home once-banned opposition groups and acknowledged past abuses. People expressed themselves freely on social media, and he announced that Ethiopia would hold free and fair elections in 2020. The country has one of the world's few "gender-balanced" Cabinets and a female president, a rarity in Africa.
And for the first time Ethiopia had no journalists in prison, media groups noted last year.
The new prime minister also announced the opening-up of Ethiopia's tightly controlled economy, saying private investment would be welcome in major state-owned sectors — a process that continues slowly.
But while Abiy became a global darling, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, troubles arose at home.
A grenade was thrown at him during an appearance in the capital. A large group of soldiers confronted him in his office in what he called an attempt to derail his reforms. In a display of the brio that has won Abiy widespread admiration, the former military officer defused the situation by dropping to the floor and joining the troops in push-ups.
More troubling these days are Ethiopia's rising ethnic tensions, as people once stifled by repression now act on long-held grievances. Some 1,200 people have been killed and some 1.2 million displaced in the greatest challenge yet to Abiy's rule. Some observers warn that the unrest will grow ahead of next year's election.
Abiy had been among the favorites for this year's prize in the run-up to Friday's announcement, though winners are notoriously hard to predict. The Nobel committee doesn't reveal the names of candidates or nominations for 50 years.
The following is a list of Nobel Peace Prize laureates since the prize was first awarded in 1901.
2019 - Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali
2018 - Congolese physician Denis Mukwege and Yezidi activist Nadia Murad
2017 - International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
2016 - Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos
2015 - The Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet
2014 - Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi
2013 - Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
2012 - European Union
2011 - Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman
2010 - Liu Xiaobo
2009 - Barack Obama
2008 - Martti Ahtisaari
2007 - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Al Gore
2006 - Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank
2005 - International Atomic Energy Agency and Mohamed ElBaradei
2004 - Wangari Maathai
2003 - Shirin Ebadi
2002 - Jimmy Carter
2001 - United Nations and Kofi Annan
2000 - Kim Dae Jung
1999 - Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)
1998 - John Hume and David Trimble
1997 - International Campaign to Ban Landmines and Jody Williams
1996 - Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo and Jose Ramos-Horta
1995 - Joseph Rotblat and Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs
1994 - Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin
1993 - Nelson Mandela and Frederik Willem de Klerk
1992 - Rigoberta Menchu
1991 - Aung San Suu Kyi
1990 - Mikhail Gorbachev
1989 - Dalai Lama
1988 - U.N. peacekeeping forces
1987 - Oscar Arias Sanchez
1986 - Elie Wiesel
1985 - International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War
1984 - Desmond Tutu
1983 - Lech Walesa
1982 - Alva Myrdal and Alfonso Garcia Robles
1981 - Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees
1980 - Adolfo Perez Esquivel
1979 - Mother Teresa
1978 - Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat and Menachem Begin
1977 - Amnesty International
1976 - Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan
1975 - Andrei Sakharov
1974 - Sean MacBride and Eisaku Sato
1973 - Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho
1972 - no prize
1971 - Willy Brandt
1970 - Norman Borlaug
1969 - International Labour Organization
1968 - Rene Cassin
1967 - no prize
1966 - no prize
1965 - U.N. Children's Fund
1964 - Martin Luther King Jr
1963 - International Committee of the Red Cross and League of Red Cross Societies
1962 - Linus Carl Pauling
1961 - Dag Hammarskjold
1960 - Albert Lutuli
1959 - Philip Noel-Baker
1958 - Georges Pire
1957 - Lester Bowles Pearson
1956 - no prize
1955 - no prize
1954 - Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees
1953 - George Catlett Marshall
1952 - Albert Schweitzer 1951 and Leon Jouhaux
1950 - Ralph Bunche
1949 - John Boyd Orr
1948 - no prize
1947 - Quakers
1946 - Emily Greene Balch and John Raleigh Mott
1945 - Cordell Hull
1944 - International Committee of the Red Cross
1943 - no prize
1942 - no prize
1941 - no prize
1940 - no prize
1939 - no prize
1938 - Nansen International Office for Refugees
1937 - Edgar Algernon Robert Gascoyne Cecil
1936 - Carlos Saavedra Lamas
1935 - Carl von Ossietzky
1934 - Arthur Henderson
1933 - Norman Angell
1932 - no prize
1931 - Jane Addams and Nicholas Murray Butler
1930 - Lars Olof Jonathan Soderblom
1929 - Frank Billings Kellogg
1928 - no prize
1927 - Ferdinand Buisson, Ludwig Quidde
1926 - Aristide Briand and Gustav Stresemann
1925 - Austen Chamberlain and Charles Gates Dawes
1924 - no prize
1923 - no prize
1922 - Fridtjof Nansen
1921 - Karl Hjalmar Branting and Christian Lous Lange
1920 - Leon Victor Auguste Bourgeois
1919 - Thomas Woodrow Wilson
1918 - no prize
1917 - International Committee of the Red Cross
1916 - no prize
1915 - no prize
1914 - no prize
1913 - Henri La Fontaine
1912 - Elihu Root
1911 - Tobias Michael Carel Asser and Alfred Hermann Fried
1910 - Permanent International Peace Bureau
1909 - Auguste Marie Francois Beernaert and Paul Henri Benjamin Balluet d'Estournelles de Constant
1908 - Klas Pontus Arnoldson and Fredrik Bajer
1907 - Ernesto Teodoro Moneta and Louis Renault
1906 - Theodore Roosevelt
1905 - Bertha Sophie Felicita von Suttner
1904 - Institute of International Law
1903 - William Randal Cremer
1902 - Elie Ducommun and Charles Albert Gobat
1901 - Jean Henry Dunant and Frederic Passy
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