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June 12, 2021
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Ethiopia, Eritrea relation stronger despite outside mounting pressure

Eritrean troops presence in Ethiopia, and their involvement in alleged human rights violation clarified, Eritrea to hold those responsible accountable

Ethiopia _ Ethiopia _ Relation
Abiy Ahmed, Isaias Afeworki along with delegates of the two countries (Photo : Ministry of Information of Eritrea)

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Friendly relation with Eritrea is a flagship achievement of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration for which he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 2019. 

And he seems to be diligently maintaining the peace with Eritrea despite reports  of alleged human rights violations , mainly in the city of Axum, by Eritrean troops. 

Existing signs seem to suggest that the relation between the two countries is getting even stronger. A statement released by Eritrea’s Ministry of Information following the conclusion of Abiy’s working visit called the meeting with Isaisas Afeworki “regular, consultative meetings.” 

The two countries are now planning joint-development projects and restoring what the government calls “people to people” relation to normalize social relation on both sides of the border, although Ethiopia is still hunting key TPLF leaders that are said to have caused the war which cost Ethiopia over one billion dollars. Timeline and how it is going to be implemented is yet to be revealed. 

On Thursday, Abiy Ahmed led a delegation for an official visit to Eritrea to meet with Eritrean President Isaias Afeworki to discuss what government media said about bilateral ties and regional development. 

The outcome was positive.  “We will continue building on the spirit of trust and good neighborliness between our two countries,” Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed disclosed in a social media message he released on Friday. 

Another key point he talked about is that the Eritrean Government agreed to withdraw troops from the Tigray region of Ethiopia. 

The Ethiopian government had been under mounting pressure from the International community in connection with Eritrea and its role in the conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. 

There had been a call for the withdrawal of Eritrean troops from the Tigray region but the Ethiopian government had been denying their presence in the region. It was only on Tuesday this week that Prime Minister Abiy admitted about it when he appeared at the Ethiopian Parliament. 

Eritrea justified the action on grounds of national security due to national security threat.  But it was PM Abiy Ahmed who explained it to parliamentarians. The Ethiopian Defense Force that was deployed along the border was withdrawn following the unexpected attack on the Northern Command on the night of November 4,2020. That is when Eritrea needed  to enter Northern Tigray to secure the border, he said.  

Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) mobilized about 250,000 forces in the course of three years preparation for the war after Abiy Ahmed came to power. It also hoped for getting additional forces from the Ethiopian Defense Force after a planned blitzkrieg attack on the army and the biggest national arsenal in Tigray. 

Although much of the plan failed, TPLF managed to seize some heavy weaponry including rockets.  The rockets attacked Eritrean capital, Asmara, and two Ethiopian cities Bahir Dar and Gondar. 

Ethiopia _ Eritrea
Eritrean President Isaias Afeworki seeing off Abiy Ahmed at Asmara International Airport (Photo credit : Ministry of Information of Eritrea)

Allegations of Human Rights Violations in Tigary by Eritrean troops 

The Ethiopian government was also criticized for alleged human rights violations, including massacre, in Axum – Ethiopia’s historic city. Eritrean troops were implicated in it. 

The only massacre that the Ethiopian government confirmed was one that happened in Maikadra which claimed more than 600 lives.  

This week the Ethiopian government confirmed that there was a massacre in Axum too. 

The United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission have announced on Thursday to jointly investigate the massacre in Axum. 

The Eritrean government, based on the updates from Ethiopian Prime Minister after his latest trip to Asmara, has agreed to hold those who were involved in what was said to be egregious human rights violations accountable. 
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