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Ethiopia names ambassador to Eritrea as ties thaw

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, left, and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki reopened the Eritrean embassy on Monday © AFP / MICHAEL TEWELDE

ETHIOPIA, Addis Ababa, Jul 19 – Ethiopia has appointed an ambassador to Eritrea for the first time in 20 years, state-affiliated media reported Thursday, the latest in a series of dizzying peace moves between the neighbours.

The announcement follows a flurry of diplomacy between the former enemies that included visits between their leaders and the first commercial flights between their capitals in two decades.

“Redwan Hussein has been appointed as Ethiopia’s ambassador to Eritrea – the first for 20 years, the foreign ministry said,” according to Ethiopia’s state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate.

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki reopened his country’s embassy in Ethiopia on Monday during a three-day official visit to Addis Ababa.

However there has been no report of the reopening of the Ethiopian embassy in Asmara.

Once a province of Ethiopia, Eritrea voted to leave in 1993 after a bloody, decades-long independence struggle.

Ethiopia and Eritrea expelled each others’ envoys at the start of a 1998-2000 border war that killed around 80,000 people.

Relations remained frozen after Ethiopia declined to accept a 2002 United Nations-backed border demarcation, leading to years of cold war between the two countries.

Last month, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced Ethiopia would accept the demarcation and cede land to Eritrea. However, it has not yet announced the withdrawal of troops from the area.

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Abiy has pursued an aggressive reform agenda since taking office in April, including making peace with Eritrea, releasing jailed dissidents and liberalising parts of the economy.

After declaring his intention to make peace on June 5, events have moved at breakneck speed.

Map of Ethiopia and Eritrea/AFP

Abiy visited Asmara a month later, announcing the normalisation of diplomatic and economic ties, and on July 9, the two leaders signed a joint declaration declaring the end of the war.

On Wednesday two packed Ethiopian Airlines flights became the first commercial services to link Asmara and Addis Ababa for two decades.


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