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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia. — The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Abiy Ahmed, the Ethiopian Prime Minister who helped end his country’s 20-year war with Eritrea.

Announcing the prize in Oslo, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said Abiy’s “efforts deserve recognition and need encouragement.”

The conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea over disputed border territory came at a huge financial and humanitarian cost for both countries.

Abiy, 43, also recently won plaudits for his role in helping to broker a power-sharing deal in neighboring Sudan after a political crisis that led to the arrest of Omar al-Bashir, the country’s ruler for almost three decades.

Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, said Abiy — who has received both praise and criticism for his reforms in Ethiopia — has not been recognized too soon, but acknowledged “challenges remain unresolved” in the country.

“There is definitely a lot achieved already in reforming Ethiopia to democracy but there’s also a long way to go,” she added.

“Rome was not made in a day and neither will peace or democratic development be achieved in a short period of time.”

Reiss-Andersen revealed the committee had not been able to contact Abiy before announcing that he had been awarded the prize. “If he’s watching us now, I would just convey my warmest congratulations,” she added.

(PHOTO: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)