The Ethiopia-Eritrea Peace Summit: Time for Emulation

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Conflict is the mother of animosity, distrust, fear, violence, disunity, economic and social short nemesis and negligence. Apart from women and children, who are often victims of unspeakable atrocities, widespread trauma, such as extensive emotional and psychological stress and a decrease in the civilian population are some of the consequences of war. Many have experienced these unfortunate mayhems in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, the Central African Republic, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan and so many other war-torn and conflict–infected countries. Despite the aftermath associated with war, it takes a lot of courage, commitment and determination to avoid conflict or achieve and maintain peace. It is, therefore, worth applauding that Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, decided to visit Eritrea, Ethiopia’s archenemy, today for a peace summit after a two-decade-old border dispute. The announcement came less than three months after he took office. The two countries which have fought an 18-year war from 1998 to 2000, which left 70,000 people dead, have agreed a few days ago to end their hostilities following Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s decision to recognize the disputed border areas, including the town of Badme, which were awarded to Eritrea.

Abiy Ahmed’s trip followed a visit to Addis Ababa by an Eritrean delegation last week. He was welcomed in the Eritrean capital Asmara by President Isaias Afewerki. Definitely, the visit is a historic moment in the relationship between the two countries. Since Mr. Abiy took office in April, he has taken some radical but bold decisions, which have been applauded by both Ethiopians and the international community. He did not only accept a court ruling, which awarded the disputed territory to Eritrea, he has equally taken steps to appease the Oromo and the Amhara communities, the country’s two largest ethnic groups, which have agitated for social change, economic equality, and political inclusion. The two ethnic groups have alleged marginalization in the hands of the central government. The two-year agitation by the Oromo and the Amhara group had resulted in the government’s crackdown, which claimed more than 1,000 lives and tens of thousands of people imprisoned. However, the government wants to handle the situation differently. Barely three months after taking over the office, the 41–year old Abiy Ahmed has rather chosen peace and reconciliation as opposed to war and conflicts. He has opened a direct communication with oppositions, released thousands of prisoners, including journalists and opposition politicians – something unthinkable under his predecessors. Furthermore, he persuaded the country’s cabinet to approve a draft law that would lift the Ethiopian’s nationwide state of emergency, arguing that the country’s security has improved.

All these unexpected measures have won Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed a lot of admirations and approval amongst Ethiopians. Although, not everyone is happy with the fast pace of the reforms. His plan to end Ethiopia visa requirements for all Africans is met in Ethiopia with a mixed reaction. The recent bomb attack during his rally in June, which left two dead, has shown that not everyone is happy with his reform or policies. However, for sure, not even Jesus or Mohammed was without enemies.

If the attempts to frustrate Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s peace plans and reformation bear any fruit, it seems, ironically to have catalyst effects. He seems determined to follow his conviction. Since becoming the Prime Minister three months ago, Mr. Ahmed has traveled to Kenya, Djibouti, Rwanda, Somalia, Uganda. He will be visiting Egypt, the USA, Ethiopian closest Western ally, soon.

With Ethiopia’s economy booming incredibly, recording the fastest economic growth in the world in recent years, every peace-loving Ethiopian should do all it takes to support the Prime Minister to achieve his goals. If Abiy Ahmed can take the bull by the horns in Ethiopia, isn’t the high time other African leaders emulated from him and take steps to unify their peoples and lead their countries to the economic paradise?

Related articles:

Ethiopia: Hopes in Hopelessness
The Need For a Historic Peace.
Kenya Election: Will Kenyans Embrace Peace and Avoid the 2007 Violence?
South Sudan: The Epitome of Irony

Photo: Washingtonpost