Who it is that midwifed the rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea...

Jan 12 , 2019

Who it is that midwifed the rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea is a matter of dispute among pundits in the Horn of Africa. There are just too many global and regional actors who claim to have played a decisive role in breaking the impasse stayed in place for two decades between the two neighbours.

The Americans? The Saudis? The Emirates? The reforming element in the EPRDF? Activists who fueled the popular protests? Could it even have been possible had Eritrea’s strongman ignored the call by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) for redemption as he had done in a number of occasions in the past? What was the most critical event, or who was it that set in motion a resumed relationship between the two warring parties?

Whatever the deal brokered and entered into between Prime Minister Abiy and President Issayas Afeworqi remains a tightly held secret. Hardly anyone apart from the two is informed enough to explain beyond guesses and contemplation, gossip observed.

The basis of the peace deal that brought to an end the military standoff between the two countries was the agreement signed in Algiers, the legitimate parent of it being the Africa Union (AU). While leaders of both countries ignored the deal signed in Algiers in their bid to gloss over the foundation of the peace deal, the AU too has been shunned, its leaders not even briefed. They blame it on the aversions of Issayas to the AU and its junior sibling, IGAD.

Getachew Reda, a member of the TPLF political bureau and the Executive Committee of the EPRDF, believes the peace deal is a child with too many parents but not one with the commitment to ensure its viability grounded in an institutionalized manner. He is hardly alone in this view, for many pundits concur with the same understanding of a deal anchored rather on the leaders’ rapport.

Gossip sees the new but obscure peace deal as an orphan.

It will be interesting to watch if and whether the rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea claims a prominent place in a series of major events to unfold in the coming two weeks, gossip anticipates. The most immediate will be a meeting of the Prime Minister with the nation’s diplomats based at the home office and its missions across the world.

It will be held on Monday, trying to trash out an original white paper authored to revise Ethiopia’s foreign affairs policy in effect since the early 2000s. Talking about Eritrea and the recent development in the greater Horn of Africa will be unavoidable, gossip anticipates.

The following day will commence the Executive Committee meeting of the EPRDF, a ruling coalition which appears to be functionally faltering to hold the nation together, claims gossip. The constituent parties of the EPRDF have leaders, as well as the rank and file, busy in the business of recrimination; harbouring hostile groups against one another, they hardly have unity of purpose and action, claims gossip.

It is customary for such high-level political meetings of a ruling party to discuss follow-ups to their latest conventions. The EPRDF Congress held in the town of Hawassa in October 2018 had focused on pursuing reforms in the consolidation of multipartyism and broadening the political space, ensuring national consensus; the restoration of the rule of law to combat a growing anarchy across the country and addressing the questions of identity; and the creation of macro-economic stability to beef up productivity.

The checklist is a mixed bag, but again impossible to ignore Eritrea, claims gossip. While the record on broadening the political space shows positive ground, the country finds itself increasingly in turmoil in almost all other fronts. Nonetheless, the most prominent among these is the ever-growing polarisation between regional states and with the federal government, while the economy looks in worrying shape despite deceptive optimism from the Bretton Woods institutions, claims gossip.

PUBLISHED ON Jan 12,2019 [ VOL 19 , NO 976]

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