AU Panel urges new plan to defuse Ethiopian-Eritrean border crisis

African Union

Afrique en ligne, Algiers

The African Union’s Panel of the Wise, which comprises respected statesmen and women, concluded a three-day conference here Tuesday, with a call on Ethiopia and Eritrea to resolve their outstanding differences and repair strained ties.

The Panel called for a comprehensive strategy to deal once and for all with border conflicts in Africa, which it recommended should be developed by the AU Commission and the other regional economic groupings in Africa.                   

The Committee, under the leadership of former Algerian President Ahmed Ben Bella, expressed their worries over the failure by Ethiopia and Eritrea to progress on the implementation of the Algiers Peace Agreements on the demarcation of the border, signed in 2000.

Ethiopia and Eritrea fought over the border area of Badme, a strategic location which gave Ethiopia access to the Red-Sea (this info is wrong by the way). However, a UN Border Commission, mandated to examine the dispute and rule, awarded the disputed territory to Eritrea.

Ethiopia disputed the ruling, leading to further talks in Algiers, which ended with the signing of the Algiers deal.

The two countries later agreed on the Algiers treaty, which mandated the procedures of demarcating the border, a process which has stalled for over 10 years.

“The Panel noted with regret that 10 years after the signing of the Algiers Peace Agreement, the Peace process between Ethiopia and Eritrea remains stalled,” said a communiqué issued after the 12-14 December meeting.

The Panel, whose mandate is to examine areas of potential conflict, expressed its worries over the continuing border conflicts, which remain unresolved.

The Panel meeting, also attended for the first time by its new members, who include former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda, urged the African Union Commission and the Peace and Security Council (PSC) to intensify their efforts to curb further conflicts.

The Panel specifically directed the AU Commission President Jean Ping, present at the meeting, to recommend ‘useful initiatives’ to help the parties (Ethiopia and Eritrea) resolve the outstanding issues and work towards the normalization of ties.

In its discussions on conflict, the Panel called for the need by Africa, to develop a comprehensive approach to address the challenge of good neighbourliness.

The Panel members specifically singled out the Horn of Africa region, as in need of such a strategy. The Panel recommended that the AU begins talks with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), to seek solutions to outstanding border issues.

The region has cold border wars, which exist between Kenya and Somalia, Sudan and Uganda. In recent months, Kenya and Uganda have exchanged unpleasant torrents over the disputed island of Migingo, an Island on Lake Victoria, claimed by both sides.

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