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July 2018, Week 4

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 		 [Ethiopia agreed to a border commission study that awarded most of
the territory disputed by the two countries to Eritrea, ending a state
of conflict that followed a 1998-2000 war that cost 80,000 lives and
displaced more than 6 million people.] [https://portside.org/] 

 ERITREA-ETHIOPIA PEACE TREATY ENDS DECADES OF BORDER CONFLICT  
[https://portside.org/2018-07-25/eritrea-ethiopia-peace-treaty-ends-decades-border-conflict]


 

 V. Arun Kumar 
 July 13, 2018
Dawn News
[http://www.thedawn-news.org/2018/07/13/eritrea-ethiopia-peace-treaty-ends-decades-of-border-conflict/]


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 _ Ethiopia agreed to a border commission study that awarded most of
the territory disputed by the two countries to Eritrea, ending a state
of conflict that followed a 1998-2000 war that cost 80,000 lives and
displaced more than 6 million people. _ 

 A tweet by Eritrean Mission to UN, 

 

Jubilant scenes were witnessed on the streets of Asmara, the capital
of Eritrea, as hundreds marched and danced celebrating the restoration
of peace and friendship with neighbouring Ethiopia.  As diplomatic
relations between the two countries were normalized after almost two
decades, families, once separated by the war, were reunited as
telephone lines were restored. Flights between the two countries are
also scheduled for next week, ending the years of ban on cross-border
travel.

“Historic,” Hallelujah Lulie, a political analyst specializing in
the Horn of Africa, posted
[https://www.pri.org/stories/2018-07-11/historic-breakthrough-between-ethiopia-and-eritrea-shows-no-sign-slowing-down] on
Twitter. “This isn’t peace between two ordinary neighbors.
Ethiopia and Eritrea share complex memory and heritage. Recognising
their intertwined past and common destiny will have a positive
political and socio-economic dividend for them, and will redraw the
geopolitical map of the Horn,” he added.

On Monday, the two east African countries signed a ‘Joint
Declaration of Peace and Friendship’ that formally put an end to 20
years of military stand-off. In May, the Ethiopian government, in a
surprise move, announced that it would implement the Algiers Agreement
of 2000. This was followed by a summit on July 9 between Eritrean
President Isaias Afwerki and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed,
where a peace declaration was signed

Eritrea and Ethiopia fought a bloody war from 1998 to 2000 over
territorial claims, leading to the death of over 80,000 people and the
displacement of around 6,50,000. One of the disputed areas was Badme,
a town in the Garh Barka region, over which the governments of the two
countries, who were once close allies, fought.

The Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF), the predecessor of
the current ruling People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PDFJ)
in Eritrea and the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front
(EPRDF), which is now part of the ruling coalition in Ethiopia,
together fought the Ethiopian government during the Eritrean
independence war and the Ethiopian Civil War in the 1980s and 1990s.
EPRDF overthrew the Derg regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991 with
the help of EPLF and in 1993, Eritrea gained independence ending a
30-year liberation struggle.

The Eritrea-Ethiopia territorial dispute, like many others in the
continent, has its origin in the ‘Scramble for Africa’ in the
19th century when European colonial powers raced to annex the region.
The Ethiopian-Italian Treaty of 1902 poorly demarcated the boundary
between Ethiopia and Eretria, sowing the seeds of a conflict. In 1936,
Italy, under the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini, merged its
colonial territories of Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somaliland. The British
took control of the region after defeating the Italians in World War
II. Even after Britain relinquished control, it, along with the US,
ensured that Eretria remained under Ethiopia. The latter was under the
monarchical rule of Haile Selassie when in December 1950, UN
Resolution 390 (V)
[https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/RESOLUTION/GEN/NR0/059/88/IMG/NR005988.pdf?OpenElement]federated
Eritrea with Ethiopia.

The reason behind US and British interest in Eritrea, and their
pushing for its federation with Ethiopia despite its history as an
independent country, can be found in a 1945 letter
[https://www.tesfanews.net/the-role-of-sinclair-oil-in-the-eritrea-ethiopia-federation/] written
by the president an American company, Sinclair Oil Corporation, to the
then US Secretary of State James F. Byrnes. The letter mentioned its
agreement with the ‘the Imperial Ethiopian government for the
exploration of petroleum in Ethiopia. It further noted that as the
country was landlocked and there was a need to construct “adequate
pipeline facilities from Ethiopia to a suitable seaport, as well as an
export shipping terminal,” the only available access to the sea was
through Eritrea.  The letter proposed:

“Our entire development program will seriously be delayed and
affected should Eritrea be under the domination of any other power
except Ethiopia. I, therefore, urgently request that your good offices
support the demand of Ethiopia with respect to Eritrea.”

The independence of Eritrea in 1993 laid to rest one of the aspects of
the conflict in the region, but the issue regarding the boundary
simmered until it flared up in 1998.

THE ALGIERS AGREEMENT 

The war between the two countries ceased on June 18, 2000 after the
signing of the ‘Agreement of Cessation of Hostilities’, backed by
the United Nations and Organisation of African Unity (OAU). The
Algiers Agreement, as it as known, called upon both the parties to
refrain from the use of force and release all prisoners of war. It
also called for ensuring ‘humane treatment to each other’s
nationals and persons of each other’s national origin within their
respective territories’.

The agreement formed two commissions. The first was mandated with the
delimitation and demarcation of the international boundary between the
two countries (Boundaries Commission). The second looked into claims
related to loss, damages and injury (Claims Commission).

In 2003, the Boundary Commission completed the delimitation process
and decided [http://legal.un.org/riaa/cases/vol_XXV/83-195.pdf] to
award most of the disputed territories, including Badme to Eritrea.
The demarcation process could not be completed due to objections by
Ethiopia, which refused to implement the decision of the commission
and withdraw its forces.

With the signing of the peace treaty on Monday, the Abiy Ahmed
government has agreed to respect the decision of the Boundary
Commission, thus putting an end to one of the longest border conflicts
in the region.  

“We will demolish the wall and, with love, build a bridge between
the two countries,” said
[https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/07/ethiopia-eritrea-agree-normalise-ties-reopen-embassies-180708193947747.html] Abiya,
who was given a cheerful welcome in Asmara.

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