Hope on the horizon for Ethiopia, Eritrea conflict

After two decades of conflict, Ethiopia and Eritrea are looking to put the past behind them

Foreign Minister of Eritrea, Osman Saleh Mohammed, arrived in Addis Ababa ahead of Eritrea’s peace talks with Ethiopia on Tuesday.

For 20 years, the two countries have been in conflict over ownership of the town of Badme. In 1998, Eritrea and Ethiopia’s dispute over the town resulted in a bloody war. More than 80,000 people died and over a million others displaced.

The area of concern was a dusty old town of no particular value. This led people to conclude that the conflict was merely a result of political muscle flexing between the dominating parties of each country, the Peoples’ Front for Democracy and Justice and the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front.

When Ethiopia enforced its claim over Badme, the world intervened through multilateral organisations such as the Organisation of African Unity. As a result, the Algiers Peace Agreement was then adopted by both countries and in 2000 they agreed to cease military hostilities indefinitely as well as institute an impartial Boundary Commission with the authority to make rulings over the boundaries between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

This peace treaty gave permission to the Commission to hand down an obligatory ruling. Which they did in 2002 when they declared Badme a part of Eritrea rather than Ethiopia. Ethiopia balked at this and refused to adhere to the decision.

With a hope to see an end to this two decade long conflict, Ethiopia’s current Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has decided to call a halt to it. Ahmed said Ethiopia would finally submit to the 2002 Boundary Commission ruling. His hope is for the people of his country and neighbouring country Eritrea to leave a legacy void of war and hate for future generations.

Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki accepted Ethiopia’s decision to hand back Badme to his country. Osmas said the door of peace had been opened by the visit.