South Sudan to preside over Ethiopia and Eritrea peace talks over border row
South Sudan said that it is working to mediate between Ethiopia and Eritrea who have been at odds since a border war which ended in 2000.
- Deng Alor Kuol, the South Sudanese Minister of Cabinet Affairs (Reuters)
South Sudan’s minister for cabinet affairs, Deng Alor, told Reuters that both Addis Ababa and Asmara had given the green light to come for peace talks over their border row.
More that 70,000 people lost their lives and tens of thousands were displaced, during the two-year war over disputed territories which also had a crippling effect of their economies.
Eritrean achieved its independence from Eritrea in 1991 after 30 years of rebellion.
“We have close ties with both countries so we are planning to mediate and solve the problems that they have between them,” said Alor.
The South Sudanese government official said that mediation talks that aimed to find a peaceful and lasting solution to the deadlock could start next month.
Alor said South Sudanese president Salva Kiir and other senior government officials are set to establish a mediating team “very soon”.
Addis Ababa has been host to a series of talks between Khartoum and Juba which saw the signing of a set of agreements in September, which have eased tensions between the two nations and improved their current economic situations.
The South Sudanese delegation will travel to Addis Ababa and Asmara to further push both sides come to the negotiating table as early as possible.
“We will embark on rounds of shuttle diplomacy between the two countries. We are hoping to start in November,” Alor said.
It is to be recalled that during his visit to Ethiopia in August last year, South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, pledged to bring Ethiopia and Eritrea for peace talks once the newly born nation has established itself on a firmer footing.
“As soon as we have set our priorities in order and rolling, I will shuttle between Addis Ababa and Asmara until the two sisterly countries are brought back to normal relations,” Alor explained.
“I personally take this as a moral duty because it is disturbing to us seeing both countries bleeding again while both of them also paid the ultimate sacrifice in order for the people of South Sudan to be free today,” Kiir then added.
The conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea ended in 2000 after the two sides signed the Algiers peace accord by which the dispute was referred for international arbitration.
The UN founded the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission awarded the contested Badme town to Eritrea.
However, Ethiopia did not comply with the ruling and refused to withdraw its troops from the key town of Badme, seeking for further negotiations.
The two rival neighbors repeatedly trade accusations of harboring and supporting rebels to forment destabilisation within one the other’s borders.
In January 2012, after an attack by Afar rebels who alledegedly harboured by Eritrea, the Ethiopian army carried out cross-border attacks in Eritrea targeting rebel bases in March of this year.
Ethiopia’s attack, which was its first incursion since border war ended, mounted fears that the countries would return to conflict. However Asmara later said it would not retaliate against the “Ethiopian aggression”.