Eritrea to discuss with Ethiopia troops’ withdrawal from disputed area: Afwerki

June 20, 2018 (ADDIS ABABA) – Eritrean President, Isaias Afwerki, Wednesday said he would send a delegation to discuss with the Ethiopian government ways to implement Algeria peace agreement over their disputed border.

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President Isaias Afwerki (Photo Shabait)

The move comes two weeks after the announcement made by the Ethiopian government providing its full acceptance of the outcome of 2002 border commission ruling which awarded disputed area, including the town of Badme, to Eritrea.

This decision has been welcomed by the regional and international community as it paves the way to end a dispute that sparked in 1998, and negatively impacted the region.

Speaking on the occasion of Martyrs’ Day, President Afwerki pointed to the “positive signals issued in these past days” saying it reflects the popular choice in the two brotherly countries that share common history and interests.

“For this reason, and outside myopic considerations of public relations stunts and advantages, we will send a delegation to Addis Ababa to gauge current developments directly and in depth as well as to chart out a plan for continuous future action,” he said.

Asmara’s reaction has been awaited in Addis Ababa since the 5th of June as many analysts cast doubt on the willingness of President Afwerki to negotiate an end of the border conflict which led to the isolation of his country.

The Eritrean leader warned against what de called the “TPLF clique, and other vultures” saying they would seek to obstruct any positive change in the relations between the two countries.

“This is best illustrated by their ambivalent public pronouncements of “yes…but” in these past days. This is designed to prevent a durable solution to the senseless border conflict that they unleashed in the first place without any justification. But their principal preoccupation and ill-will is to avert and frustrate any positive change in Ethiopia”.

President Afwerki was referring to statements by some leading members of the ruling party, EPRDF, who are ethnic Tigrayans living in the border disputed area and opposition to Abiy decision to hand Badme over to Eritrea.

Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a war from 1998 to 2000 over their border dispute, which left about 80,000 people dead.

Abiy welcomes Afwerki’s response

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed welcomed the “constructive response” of President Isaias Afwerki of Eretria saying it “is essential for the mutual benefit of both countries”.

The Premier pointed to the face to face meeting between President Salva Kiir and SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar and expressed his optimism that the coming years will offer the spirit of unity and respect among the East African countries.

Addis Ababa in the past several times asked for negotiation before to implement the ruling of the arbitration commission but Asmara demanded to withdraw Ethiopian troops first from Badme before talks.

The decision of President Afwerki could allow the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to consolidate his power and implement economic and social reforms in the country.

(ST)