Eritrea: Community Consultation - Way Forward to Algiers Accord Implementation

A street alley near the Mercato (market) on a Sunday in Asmara.

With official statement yet to come from the Asmara's side following Ethiopia's announcement to unconditionally implement the Algiers agreement, experts are advising to strike a balance between the border demarcation works and the fate of communities living along the borders to avoid inconveniences.

This is not the first time that Ethiopia has accepted the Algiers agreement. The country was committed to the agreement right after the leaders of the two countries entered into the accord. But issues relating to communities living along the borders put the implementation on hold ever since, according to the Experts.

Being final and binding, there has never been an alternative to the Algiers agreement. In other words, according to the agreement, there is no appeal to it and Ethiopia is bound by it. Both parties cannot go against international law, all they ever have to do is to put the agreement on the ground and turn into the other page, states International legal expert, Dr. Yakob Hailemariam .

However, Dr. Yakob further told The Ethiopian Herald that there are certain things that need to be applied before the demarcation is made on ground. Human lives are involved in the border rulings which would make the application complex and difficult.

"The problem lies on the delimitation; it, therefore, complicates the actual task. The line drawn on map goes through and may dismantle churches and graveyards. This was the reason that put the past attempts of the implementation on hold and caused the stalemate."

There cannot be half church, half graveyard that is why further dialogue is inevitable, he says, adding that there should be negotiations and consultations on the fate of the communities and their needs.

The border ruling divides the Irob community in to two territories in the two nations. That is why further consultations are required not just at government level but with the community as well, he notes.

To him, deciding to fully implement the Algiers agreement is genuinely important step forward towards peace.

"The Algiers agreement has been accepted by Ethiopia unconditionally which I think is right path by the government."

Dr. Yakob, however, argues that the issue of Ethiopian and Eritrea cannot be summarized into single border issue.

The lives of the peoples on the borders are intertwined in many ways, he explains, underscoring that there are no similar people like Ethiopia and Eritrea in other parts of Africa. "Thus, it requires careful assessment and settlement of issues."

Confrontation was never meant to settle disagreement, according to him. The incumbent is after peace and will never give away Ethiopian interest so easily, he states. "War has never been a solution, in war there is no victor and loser in this context."

Geopolitics Analyst Luelseged Girma is also in the opinion that it was wrong to waste years to implement the agreement while both countries have accepted it as final and binding.

But it is premature to conclude as Ethiopia's policy would shape Eritrea's position as there is no clear policy from Asmara yet, he says.

But it is inevitable that the two countries would enter into further dialogue with regard to the implementation of the agreement, he states, and goes to say as there are issues that should be dealt with carefully when it comes to the fate of the communities living along the borders of the both countries.

Otherwise, Ethiopia's decision is very optimistic and will help for peace to prevail. Peace between the two countries is equated with more growth and development, he stresses.

And it would be in the best advantage of the two countries, and even the Horn Africa, for it complements peace and stability.

"Unlike few who cast doubts on the possible response from the Eritrean side, Luel is in the hope as Eritrea has no option other than positively reciprocating to Ethiopia's call. Otherwise any refusal will prove nothing other than maintaining the status quo which is futile as witnessed so far."

Speaking at this point of time, applying the Algiers agreement will enhance win-win situation, he underlines, casting hopes in that if the border "no peace, no war situation" situation is resolved, the two countries will turn their face to some other developmental issues.

For his part, Ethiopian Foreign Relations Strategic Studies Institutes Deputy Executive Director Mogos Tekelemichael says Asmara can no longer use Algiers accord as a pretext now that Ethiopia expressed its commitment to it.

"Eritrea's manipulations of Algiers agreement as precondition for turning its back to peace call cannot hold water anymore."

The Algiers Agreement applies to both countries, he states, adding that one cannot abide by it while the other side is violating it.

He further goes to say Eritrea cannot insist on implementation of one component of the Algiers agreement while violating the other one, he adds.

"Eritrea has to respect the agreement in its totality; otherwise, for Asmara to question Ethiopia's commitment is nothing but a double standard."

He is also in the same opinion with Luel when putting the matter in the context of regional economic integration. "In fact, Ethiopia's decision would pave the way for Horn economic cooperation."

Mogos believes that it proves hard to end the two counters' stalemate when the Asmara regime's intention was trying to bury its head on the Algiers Agreement, now that Ethiopia has committed itself to the full implementation of it, the rest is up to Eritrean government.

There are many more opportunities that both countries may use to renew their friendship, Algiers might have been a point of discussion, but the other aspects of the people to people relation are more than good enough to reestablish ties, Moges adds.

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