Talks between Eritrea and Ethiopia?

In December Eritrea Hub reported on the preliminary work undertaken by the World Council of Churches to bring these neighbours together to solve the border issue.

Now India Ocean Newsletter has published more details of what is – apparently – under way.

The story has been categorically denied by Eritrea, which described it as ‘false’.

Below is their report, together with some details of a reported participant.


 

ISSUE 1468 DATED 16/02/2018 According to information obtained exclusively by the Indian Ocean Newsletter, discussions are under way aimed at resolving the border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Official communications between the two countries had already begun in the greatest secrecy and a meeting had been planned between the Eritrean president Issayas Afeworki and the former Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who stepped down on 15 January. The two governments are currently encouraging personal initiatives by accredited figures. Following the major overhaul of the country’s foreign policy (ION 1462), Ethiopia has set up a committee headed by the former president, Girma Wolde-Giorgis, and by Medhane Tadesse, an expert in peace and security matters who is said to be close to the TPLF. He is also a professor at the African Leadership Centre at King’s College London. They are being supported in their efforts by Yacob Hailemariam, a retired academic and a former member of the opposition Coalition for Unity and DemocracyLidetu Ayalew, the former leader of the Ethiopian Democratic Party (EDP, moderate opposition, ION 1451), and Memhir Gebrekidan Desta, a venerable Tigrayan activist.

This group’s task is to mobilise religious leaders – such as the Archbishop of Addis Ababa and Primate of the Ethiopian Catholic Church, Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, and Teklemariam Asrat, aka Abune Mathias , the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church – to restart talks between the two rival countries. Preference is being given to these religious networks as a way of bypassing the politicians and the soldiers. According to our information, this initiative has received the unofficial support of the United States and the European Union, but it has been agreed that these two parties should not involve themselves directly in this new undertaking. However, the Italian government has agreed to participate in defining the definitive border and in developing infrastructure in the border regions. In late January, Medhane Tadesse and some members of his committee travelled to the town of Shire close to the Ethiopian-Eritrean border to prepare the ground for discussions, and the first session of meetings is scheduled for mid-September 2018 in the strategic border towns of Zalambesa and Gerahusurnay, which will solely involve the local inhabitants and traditional leaders. It will be followed by another official meeting in Addis Ababa

Medhane Tadesse
King’s College Visiting Professors

Medhane Tadesse is a Visiting Professor at the African Leadership Centre, Kings College London. He is an academic specialist on peace and security issues in Africa who has researched extensively on civil wars, the Governance of Security, Political Islam and interstate conflicts. A veteran political analyst in the Horn of Africa he has written widely and on a variety of issues and assumed high profile advisory position, at a young age, on one of the most complicated and intractable conflicts in Africa, Somalia. He was, among others, advisor to the President of Somaliland and the Ethiopian Foreign Minister in the mid-1990s. He is also a columnist and frequent commentator on global and regional security issues, and is the editor of The Current Analyst, an online journal that examines issues of peace and security in Africa.

Medhane played a crucial role in familiarizing the Governance of Security at both research and policy levels. Drafted and developed the Horn of African Strategy for Security Sector Reform/SSR/; provided extensive support to the African Union Commission in conceptualizing, drafting and finalizing its Policy Framework on SSR; organized and chaired the Development of National Security Policy for the new Republic of South Sudan a; led the Review Process of Juba University’s Capacity on Peace and Security Studies and designed the plan for Building the Capacity of the University of Juba on Security Sector Transformation.

An early student of Somali Islamists and the threat of radicalization in Africa,  Medhane has taught at various universities in Ethiopia and abroad and has written extensively on African security and related topics, spawning four books, over 160 briefing papers, articles, commentaries and policy memos. He served as an advisor to governments, political and armed groups, and sits on the board of directors of several peace and security related institutions including the African Security Sector Network (ASSN), the African leadership Centre (ALC) and is a Senior SSR Advisor to the African Union.

Medhane has been a guest and key note speaker on Global Peace and Security, African Conflicts, Radicalization and the Governance of the Security Sector in more than 75 venues around the Globe, delivering briefings from NATO Headquarters to the Chinese Communist Party, from World Bank headquarters to US (Kelly) military barracks, from the British parliament to the US State Department and Angolan parliaments.

 

 

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