Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali has won the Nobel peace Prize for his role in addressing the Ethopia-Eritrea conflict. What was the conflict about? What was the role of Abiy Ahmed Ali in ending the decades old conflict?

Published: October 12, 2019

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali was awarded the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for “his important work to promote reconciliation, solidarity and social justice”.

Conflict between Ethiopia-Eritrea

Even though the border dispute began in 1998, the conflict between the two countries has a longer history.

Eritrea was once an Italian colony. It was merged with Ethiopia in 1936 during Benito Mussolini’s regime and was taken over by the British during the Second World War.

A United Nations declaration in 1950 made Eritrea part of a federation with Ethiopia. The Eritrean groups launched a struggle for independence in 1961, Ethiopia dissolved the federation and annexed Eritrea in 1962.

This led to a war which lasted 30 years and Eritrea gained international recognition as an independent country in 1993.

Just five years later a war broke out over the control of Badme, a border town both countries coveted. The violence which went on until an agreement to cease hostilities in 2000, claimed 80,000 lives and separated countless families. Since 2000 both the two countries were in a state of “no peace, no war”.

Role of Ethiopian Prime Minister in addressing the Crisis

After Abiy Ahmed Ali became Ethiopian Prime Minister in 2018, he stepped across the border, held Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki in a warm embrace and signalled the beginning of a peace effort, announcing to the world that war was no longer an option.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy in cooperation with Eritrean President Afwerki worked out the principles of a peace agreement, set out in declarations the two leaders signed in Asmara during that July visit and in Jeddah in September.

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