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Jacinda Ardern misses out on Nobel Peace Prize, awarded to Ethiopian Prime Minister

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has missed out on a Nobel Peace Prize, with the prize going to the Ethiopian Prime Minister.

While Ms Ardern was named as a favourite for the prize by Time Magazine following her response to the March 15 Christchurch terrorist attacks, the prize went to Abiy Ahmed who helped improve ties with neighbouring country Eritrea.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern embraces a Muslim mourner following the MArch 15 terrorist attack in Christchurch. Source: Getty

The Norwegian Nobel Committee chair Berit Reiss-Andersen announced the winner tonight.

She said many challenges still remained in the region, but said she hoped the prize would help encourage Mr Ahmed's efforts.

In September last year, he contributed to diplomacy between Eritrea and Djibouti after “many years of political hostility”.

He also freed tens of thousands of political prisoners in Ethiopia and facilitated reconciliation between rival groups.

“Some people would think some people think this year’s prize is being awarded too early,” she said.

“Ethnic strife continues to escalate,” Ms Reiss-Andersen continued, with old ethnic rivalries in the African nation having “flared up”.

“It is now that Abiy Ahmed's efforts need recognition and deserve encouragement."

She said stability in Ethiopia, being East Africa’s largest economy, would help lead to “many positive side-effects” for the region.

The office of the Ethiopian Prime Minister released a statement expressing pride in the selection.

"This victory and recognition is a collective win for Ethiopians," the statement said.

Other speculated nominees for the annual prize were reported to include Greta Thunberg for her climate activism in the school strike movement, German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her refugee policy and Hong Kong activists fighting for democracy.

A bust of the Nobel Prize founder Alfred Nobel on display at the Concert Hall during the Nobel Prize award ceremony in Stockholm (file photo). Source: Associated Press

The deadline for nominations for the awards was in February, but the Nobel committee can add names to its list after its closing.

The Nobel Foundation restricts the release of its official list of nominees and nominators for 50 years.

A win comes with a US$918,000 prize.

A joint 2018 prize went to Dr Denis Mukwege from Congo and human rights activist Nadia Murad. They were awarded for their work in the fight to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.

Nobel Laureates will receive their prize in Oslo, Norway on December 10 - the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel’s death.

Past winners also include former US President Barack Obama, Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (file photo). Source: Associated Press