June 6 (UPI) — Ethiopia’s ruling party on Tuesday said it plans to implement a dormant, 18-year-old peace agreement to end strife with Eritrea.
The agreement was the result of a border commission convened in 2000 after two years of bloody fighting between the two countries over disputed lands along the border, specifically the town of Badme. The war left some 70,000 people dead.
Ethiopia’s ruling EPRDF coalition said it would implement the Algiers accord on the heels of the election of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who promised to bring reforms to the country.
“Ethiopia [and] Eritrea have the most unique cultural, historical [and] blood ties,” said Fitsum Arega, Abiy’s chief of staff. “The suffering on both sides is unspeakable because the peace process is deadlocked. This must change for the sake of our common good. Our [government] is expected to take a new initiative to address the stalemate.”
The peace agreement, the Algiers accord, gave Badme to Eritrea, but Ethiopia disagreed with the plan in 2000 and called for more negotiations. Since then, the two countries have engaged in occasional armed clashes.
Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1991 after a 30-year war with its neighbor and gained international recognition in 1993.
The turf war sparked up between the two countries in 1998.
The news comes three days after Ethiopian officials said they planned to lift a state of emergency following anti-government protests. Since Abiy took office in April, he has warmed to political dissidents and worked to reform state-owned businesses.
On Tuesday, Arega said that in an effort to modernize Ethiopia’s economy, the EPRDF agreed to mixed ownership or “outright full privatization” in some business sectors, including railways, sugar and hotels.