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Ethiopia’s first envoy in 20 years assumes office in Asmara

By Abuga Makori in Nairobi , Garowe Online

ASMARA - After 16 months of waiting, the frosty relationship between Ethiopia and Eritrea came to a culmination, following a flurry of diplomatic activities between the two nations.

Redwan Hussien, formerly Ethiopian ambassador to Ireland, was received on Wednesday in Asmara by President Isaias Afwerki.

Interestingly, Hussien was appointed in July 2018 following the rapprochement by the two nations, but it has taken 16 months to finally report to the place of work.

"President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea has received today the credential of Redwan Hussein," the Addis Ababa Standard tweeted.

Eritrea and Ethiopia had been at loggerheads since 1998, when both nations imposed blockades against each other, leading to imminent fallout.

Almost at the same time last year, Semere Russom, who was Eritrea’s education minister and a former envoy to the United States was appointed as Eritrea ambassador to Addis Ababa.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed played an indispensable role in calling for a ceasefire after his election in April 2018. He agreed to implement a peace deal, effectively ending a two-decade row.

A former province of Ethiopia, Eritrea seceded in 1993 after voting unanimously for autonomy. The boundary row five years later destabilized the relationship.

In a joint declaration ending the state of war on July 9, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia and President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea said, “A new era of peace and friendship has been opened.”

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 the cold war between the two countries.

Ahmed won the Nobel Peace Prize this year ostensibly for the role he played in restoring peace and stability in Eritrea. However, he's yet to withdraw troops from the disputed area.

But despite giving room for liberalism back in Ethiopia, Abiy is struggling to contain ethnic antagonism in his own country, which has left over 100 dead.

A football clash between Ethiopia and Eritrea scheduled this Saturday in Uganda has since been abandoned following financial difficulties in Addis Ababa.

The two national teams had been set for the historical encounter in Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup, after two decades of strained diplomatic relations.

Even though Ahmed has managed to end hostility with Eritrea, he's now being dragged to Somalia's domestic infightings, with Jubaland blaming Ethiopian troops of incursion in the Gedo region.


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