Here’s why Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is on his way to being declared the 2019 Nobel Peace prize winner

New Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is the first prime minister in modern Ethiopian history to come from the country's largest ethnicity the Oromo
  • One name which is on almost everybody's lips whom fans and critics alike are betting on is Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
  • British oddsmaker Ladbrokes offers odds of 4/1 for the Ethiopian Prime Minister to win.
  • Asle Sveen, a historian who has written several books about the Nobel Peace Prize, says Mr. Abiy is exactly the kind of candidate Alfred Nobel had envisaged for the prize.

On Friday, the Nobel committee is expected to announce the 2019 Nobel Peace prize winner. There is a total of 301 nominees for the award.

One name which is on almost everybody's lips whom fans and critics alike are betting on is Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

British oddsmaker Ladbrokes offers odds of 4/1 for the Ethiopian Prime Minister to win.

Asle Sveen, a historian who has written several books about the Nobel Peace Prize, said Mr. Abiy is exactly the kind of candidate Alfred Nobel had envisaged for the prize.

“The peace deal has ended a long conflict with Eritrea, and he is very popular for having done this, and he is doing democratic reforms internally,” Sveen told Reuters.

What makes Abiy stand out

The deal Mr. Sveen is referring to is Abiy’s biggest victories yet - the peace deal he brokered with neighbor Eritrea. The deal, signed in July last year, ended a nearly 20-year military stalemate with Eritrea following their 1998-2000 border war.

Apart from that, Mr. Abiy has also been busy doing goodwill at home and away from home.

When Ahmed took office in April 2018, he freed political prisoners and went on to sign a peace agreement with his Eritrean counterpart Isaias Afwerki, indicating that Ethiopia would accept the border and he would hand over disputed land territories. 

Since taking power, Ahmed has also championed the role of women in politics — he appointed women to half of the government’s 20 ministerial posts, including the country’s first female defense minister.

In 2018, with Abiy’s backing Ethiopian members of parliament elected Sahle-Work Zewde as the country's first female president.

He has appointed former dissidents to senior roles. Daniel Bekele, a former political prisoner and Africa director at New York-based Human Rights Watch, now heads the government’s human rights commission.

Similarly, Birtukan Mideksa, who founded an opposition party and was jailed after a disputed 2005 election, now heads the electoral commission.

After Sudanese police killed more than 100 protesters in June, Abiy flew to Khartoum to convince Sudan’s new military rulers and the opposition to restart talks, and persuaded Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to back his mediation. The talks led to a power-sharing accord in August.

His competitors 

Abiy’s main competitor is 16-year-old climate change activist, Greta Thunberg from Sweden.

Thunberg has become famous for her speeches and protests over climate inaction. She began protesting in August 2018 with a school strike outside the Swedish Parliament. 

A year later, an estimated four million people joined the teenager in a global strike on Sept. 20 — with activists, many of them schoolchildren, joining the protests from Thailand to Afghanistan to Haiti. 

If Thunberg wins, she’d be the youngest Nobel winner in history. Malala Yousafzai, who won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize at age 17, currently holds that distinction.

Other competitors are New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, Brazilian indigenous chief, Raoni Metuktire who has spent his life protecting the Amazon rainforest and Reporters Without Borders who are being considered for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

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