Eritrea Leader to Revisit Ethiopia as Talks Turn to Rebels

(Bloomberg) -- Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki will make his second trip to Ethiopia since the Horn of Africa nations declared peace in July, amid signs that Ethiopian rebels previously designated as terrorists will return home unarmed to participate in politics.

Plans for Isaias’ visit were relayed by Nigusu Tilahun, the chief of communications for Ethiopia’s Amhara regional state, who didn’t give a date. The announcement comes after Amhara authorities signed a reconciliation agreement with the rebel Amhara Democratic Forces Movement this week in Eritrea, allowing the group to pursue political activities in Ethiopia after they disarm, Nigusu said in a statement.

Eritrea Leader to Revisit Ethiopia as Talks Turn to Rebels

It’s the latest step in a rapid rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea, who had been at odds since a 1998-2000 war that claimed as many as 100,000 lives and have each harbored rebels hostile to their neighbor. Ethiopia’s new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has backed a ruling politburo vow to establish multi-party democracy at home and in July made an historic visit to Eritrea in which the nations agreed on restoring diplomatic, telecommunications and transport links.

The Amhara agreement comes after talks in Eritrea last week between the Ethiopian government, Oromia regional state officials and the rebel Oromo Liberation Front on the latter operating freely in Ethiopia as an opposition party. OLF delegates arrived Tuesday in Ethiopia and will discuss unspecified issues on a newly formed committee with the government, the group said on its Facebook page.

Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel has said the return home of Eritrea-based Ethiopian opposition groups is linked to a five-point peace declaration between the two countries. The agreement also means that Ethiopia shouldn’t host Eritrean opposition groups, he said.

“Under normal conditions of peace, if we have security agreements, the corollary is that one country would not host opposition elements of another country,” Yemane said late July in the capital, Asmara.

Eritrea’s government hasn’t offered to hold talks with Eritrean opposition groups based in Ethiopia. It isn’t “an issue at all for the people of this country,” presidential adviser Yemane Gebreab said earlier this month. “We’re focusing on creating the grounds here whereby all citizens can enjoy their rights.”

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