5 June 2018

East Africa: News Update - Ethiopia Accepts the Algiers Agreement in Bid to Normalize Relations With Eritrea - Opens Up Its Economy

Photo: UN Photo/Jorge Aramburu
United Nations peacekeepers on patrol on the Eritrean-Ethiopian border (file photo).

Addis Abeba — After a day long meeting by the 36 Executive Committee members of the ruling EPRDF a statement released by the politburo said Ethiopia will fully accept the December 12, 2000 Algiers Agreement, a peace agreement between the governments of Eritrea and Ethiopia, which established a special boundary commission.

The Algiers agreement stipulated that the two states, fresh out of a two year costly war, would accept a decision by the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) as "final and binding." However, when the EEBC delivered its decision awarding the town of Badme, the epicenter of the war that killed tens and thousands from both sides, to Eritrea, Ethiopia backtracked from its commitment with the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi eventually declaring Ethiopia will only accept the EEBC decision "in principle," leading to sixteen years state of no war no peace between the two countries and frustrating the international community.

Ethiopia has agreed to fully accept the Ethio-Eritrea boundary commission which ruled the disputed territory of Badme to be Eritrean territory. This is critical for the two countries & the broader Horn. Very smart move by Ethiopia. Now, the ball is in Afeworki's court. - Awol Allo (@awolallo) June 5, 2018

By accepting the Algiers agreement Ethiopia will have to withdraw its occupying forces from all territories awarded to Eritrea by the EEBC, including the flashpoint town, Badme. Ethiopia also called on Eritrea to reciprocate the decision and work toward bringing a lasting peace between the people of the two countries. Eritrea had accepted EEBC's decision and refused to submit to any further negotiation without the prior acceptance by Ethiopia of the commission's decision.

Economy opened up

In a related development, the EPRDF executive committee first day meeting has decided to open up Ethiopia's economy both to Ethiopian and foreign investors by making partial or full privatizations in key state owned enterprises including industrial parks, railway projects, sugar factories, hotels and other manufacturing industries.

In a stunning departure from its own economic policy, the EPRDF has also decided to transfer shares in mega state owned including the national carrier Ethiopian Airlines, state monopolies Ethio-telecom & Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Service Enterprise, and hydroelectric projects both to Ethiopians and foreign investors. The government will continue having a majority share in these companies.

The executive committee spent much of the day discussing the two year and half performance report of GTPII, which revealed shocking details about the dismal state of the economy. AS

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