Breaking

Eritrea’s Isaias Afwerki in historic Ethiopia visit

Latest news

    President Isaias AfwerkiImage copyright Reuters
    Image caption The 72-year-old’s visit is seen a remarkable turnaround

    Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki is expected to arrive in Ethiopia shortly for the first time since the start of the two countries’ border war in 1998.

    The gesture of the visit is intended to cement the recent reconciliation between the long-time enemies.

    A peace deal ending the 1998-2000 border conflict had never been fully implemented and there has been tension between the neighbours ever since.

    The countries have also agreed to re-establish trade and diplomatic ties.

    Their border has been closed since the war ended, cutting off members of the same families.

    Why is this such a big deal?

    The two countries have been in a state of “no war, no peace” since 2000, when a peace deal ended a war in which tens of thousands of people were killed.

    A border commission set up under the peace agreement ruled that the town of Badme, the flashpoint for the conflict, was part of Eritrea but Ethiopia refused to accept this and so normal relations were never resumed.

    The rivalry affected the whole region with each country normally taking opposite positions whatever the question. They also took rival sides in Somalia’s long conflict – Eritrea was accused of backing Islamist groups, while Ethiopia, a US ally, supported the internationally recognised government.

    Until now, Eritrea has always said that war could resume at any time and so had national conscription, which could last indefinitely. This is one of the main reasons why so many Eritreans try to leave the country and seek asylum in Europe.

    President Afwerki’s visit is a remarkable turnaround for the 72-year-old independence leader who has been isolated diplomatically and seen as secretive and paranoid.

    Why is this happening now?

    Since Mr Abiy took over as prime minister of Ethiopia three months ago, he has introduced a raft of changes.

    As well as his overtures to Eritrea, Mr Abiy has lifted a state of emergency, freed political prisoners and announced economic reforms.

    He inherited a country that has seen some of the fastest economic growth in the world in recent years, but has also been riven by years of protests by people who feel marginalised.

    Image copyright Mela Gebre Medhin
    Image caption Jubilant Eritreans took to the streets of the capital, Asmara, last week as Ethiopia’s prime minister visited

    The previous government was accused by many of human rights violations – including torture and extrajudicial killing of political dissidents.

    Mr Abiy is the country’s first Oromo leader – the ethnic group at the centre of nearly three years of anti-government protests, which have left hundreds of people dead.

    What will change?

    The two leaders said the countries would improve political, economic and diplomatic ties.

    Transport and telephone links will also be re-established. The first flights between the two countries in two decades are expected next week.

    For the last 20 years, it has been impossible to travel directly from one nation to the other. There have been no flights, the land border was closed, and telephone lines did not work.

    This raises the possibility that families who have been divided by the conflict could finally be reunited.

    Family members divided by the dispute are now able to telephone each other for the first time since the war.

    Image copyright Addisalem Hadigu
    Image caption Ethiopian journalist Addisalem Hadigu hopes to see his daughter again for the first time in 16 years
    View the original article: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-44824676

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-44824676

    In the same category are

    News Daily: High Street woe and Armistice commemorations If you want to get this briefing by email, sign up here Image copyright Spencer Platt/GettyRetail troubles The woes of the High Street only deepen, i...
    Theresa May accused of ‘breaking promises’ over Irish border Image copyright ReutersThe DUP has accused the PM of breaking promises over plans to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland post-Brexit. The party re...
    BTS member in atom bomb shirt controversy Image copyright Getty Images Image caption BTS have seen huge success within and outside South KoreaA Japanese TV show has cancelled an appearance by ...
    CBeebies Bedtime Stories: How Tom Hardy, Dolly Parton, and now Orlando Bloom, won bedtime Picture the magical scene. It's a weekday evening, around quarter to seven. Someone is in their pants bouncing up and down on the sofa, shouting for c...
    ‘I was told I’d die if I had a baby’ Image caption Hayley Martin thought she was dying when she had her heart attackWomen who survive a heart attack caused by a condition called SCAD are...
    Parole Board chairwoman ‘concerned’ about lack of black panel members The new chairwoman of the Parole Board has said it is a "significant concern" that none of its 240 members is black. Caroline Corby said just 13 membe...

    Leave a comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.