Ethiopia News

Ethiopia offers to withdraw from Badme in a bid to end stalemate and make peace with Eritrea

Written by OPride Staff

(OPride)—The Ethiopian government on Tuesday said it will “fully accept” and comply with the 2000 Algiers Agreement and the 2002 boundary commission decision in a bid to thaw relations with neighboring Eritrea. The agreement ended a devastating war the two countries fought between 1998 and 2000, which left tens of thousands of people dead.

The boundary commission awarded the flashpoint town of Badme to Eritrea, something Addis Ababa refused to accept – until now. If fulfilled, under the latest move, the Ethiopian army will withdraw from the disputed border region and relinquish control of the territory.

Both parties signed the Algiers Agreement that ultimately ended open hostilities in 2000. Despite the international ruling that declared Badme Eritrea’s territory, the Ethiopian army has remained in the area.

“The Ethiopian and Eritrean people are tied together linguistically, by history and by lineage,” the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) said in a statement on Tuesday. “In the interests of both peoples, the Ethiopian government has decided to fully comply with the decisions of the boundary commission and the Algiers Agreement.”

It’s a groundbreaking move that could remake the geopolitical makeup of the entire region. Military conflict may have ended 18 years ago, but Ethiopia’s refusal to adhere to the border ruling led to a “no peace no war” stalemate between the two nations. The border remains closed; disputed areas are manned by thousands of soldiers on each side of the border. Travel and trade was halted. Neither side has made a serious pledge to restore diplomatic relations, with the two neighbors regularly trading barbs and accusing the other of supporting domestic opposition elements. In fact, the conflict even spilled into other countries, particularly Somalia, where both Eritrea and Ethiopia were at some point accused of supporting rival armed groups.

In his inaugural address last April, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed vowed to do all he could to restore peace between the two “brotherly peoples.”

At the time, the Eritrean government rebuffed the news as a usual banter. “The ball has stayed for too long in Ethiopia’s court,” Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel said. Ethiopia needs to honor its treaty obligations by withdrawing from the occupied territories – including Badme.”

However, unlike his predecessors, Prime MinisterAbiy seems committed to fulfill that pledge. During a recent state visit to Saudi Arabia, Abiy reportedly attempted to contact Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki directly. He apparently enlisted the help of the Saudi Crown Prince who called Asmara but the phone call went unanswered.

Ethiopia now appears ready to go a step further and make a huge concession, extending an olive branch to the Eritrean government, long deemed to be an archrival and an enemy of the country.

“We call on the Eritrean government to take a similar stance and accept our call without preconditions to take part in the initiative that will restore the peace and togetherness of our peoples to what it used to be,” the EPRDF press release said.

Now that Ethiopia has at least verbally agreed to comply with the Algeirs treaty obligations, suddenly, the ball is firmly on Eritrea’s side. The reaction on social media was a mix of shock, surprise, elation and utter disbelief.



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OPride Staff

Collaborative stories written or reported by OPride staff and contributors.

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