AU wishes Ethiopians continued peace and joy in New Year

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) – African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat has on behalf of “the entire African Union Family" extended best wishes to the Ethiopian people as they celebrated New Year 2011 on Tuesday.

“The African Union, which is headquartered in Addis Ababa, shares the joy and optimism of our Ethiopian colleagues and friends following a year of far reaching decisions that have opened the space for all Ethiopians to consolidate peace and unity in their country, as well as reinforce good neighborliness and regional integration,” Mr. Mahamat said in his message.

”May the New Year be filled with continued peace and joy. Melkam Addis Amet (Amharic for Happy New Year),” he added.

Meanwhile, Ethiopian and Eritrean leaders marked the day by re-opening crossing points on their common border for the first time in 20 years, a symbolic action regarded by their citizens as cementing a stunning reconciliation that has given Addis Ababa a direct route to its former foe's Red Sea ports.

Ethiopian and Eritrean forces stationed along the border will be moved back to camps to ease tensions further, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said.

"We heralded the new year by demolishing the trenches along our border," Abiy told reporters, referring to celebration of Ethiopian New Year 2011 on Tuesday.

"As of today, Ethiopia's defence forces (along the border with Eritrea) will be gathered to camps and ease tension that was often extreme. The same will be done from the Eritrean side."

The war that broke out in 1998 over the border and other issues killed an estimated 80,000 people before fighting ended in 2000 in a contested peace deal.

Tensions burned on over the position of the frontier - until Abiy offered to end the military standoff this year as part of a package of reforms that have reshaped the political landscape in the Horn of Africa and beyond.

Thousands of people from both countries watched one border opening ceremony in Zalambessa, an Ethiopian border town that was reduced to rubble soon after hostilities between the two neighbours started in 1998.

Soldiers and civilians waving Ethiopian and Eritrean flags lined the road as Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki opened the frontier in a ceremony broadcast live on Ethiopian state TV.

The two leaders opened another frontier crossing at Bure, Eritrea's Information Minister Yemane Meskel said in a tweet.

The Debay Sima - Bure crossing leads to the port of Assab in Eritrea's east, while its Massawa port is directly north of the Serha - Zalambessa connection.
-0- PANA AR 11Sept2018

11 september 2018 17:33:04

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