The Norwegian Nobel Committee on Friday awarded Nobel Peace Prize for 2019 to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali for his efforts to end the country’s conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.

“The 2019 Nobel Peace Prize is also meant to recognise all the stakeholders working for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia and in the East and Northeast African regions,” the committee added. “In close cooperation with Isaias Afwerki, the president of Eritrea, this year’s Peace Laureate Abiy Ahmed quickly worked out the principles of a peace agreement to end the long ‘no peace, no war’ stalemate between Ethiopia and Eritrea.”

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said Ahmed’s efforts deserve recognition and encouragement now. The committee added that it hoped the prize would strengthen his important work for peace and reconciliation in the region.

“In Ethiopia, even if much work remains, Peace Laureate Abiy Ahmed has initiated important reforms that give many citizens hope for a better life and a brighter future,” said the committee spokesperson. “As prime minister, Abiy Ahmed has sought to promote reconciliation, solidarity and social justice.”

Ethiopia and Eritrea reopened their border in September 2018 after it remained closed during war for two decades. This followed a historic summit between the two countries’ leaders in Eritrea’s Capital Asmara.

Ahmed was selected from 301 candidates for the prize, out of which 223 were individuals and 78 were organisations.

On Thursday, the Swedish Academy had awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature to Polish author Olga Tokarczuk and the 2019 prize to Austrian author Peter Handke. The day before, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences gave the Nobel Prize in Chemistry to John B Goodenough, M Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino for the development of lithium ion batteries.

The prize in physics went to James Peebles, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz on Tuesday “for contributions to our understanding of the evolution of the universe and Earth’s place in the cosmos”. American researchers William G Kaelin Jr and Gregg L Semenza, and British scientist Sir Peter J Ratcliffe won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for their discoveries of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability”.

The winner of the economics prize will be announced on Monday.

Among the bookmakers’ favourites for the peace prize this year were environmental activist Greta Thunberg, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, according to The Guardian.

Yazidi Kurdish human rights activist Nadia Murad and gynaecologist Denis Mukwege from Democratic Republic of Congo were the winners in 2018. Murad and Mukwege were chosen for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.

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Ethiopia and Eritrea reopen border after 20 years as part of rapprochement

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