Eritrea should open the window to discuss issues with Ethiopia: IGAD chief

IGAD Chief

IRIN

The Horn of Africa is facing huge humanitarian and political challenges, but according to Mahboub M. Maalim, executive secretary of IGAD, the region is coping.

Here is what he is trying to say about the solution to Ethio-Eritrea conflict.

QUESTION: Eritrea has suspended its membership of IGAD. What is the current state of play with the Eritrea-Djibouti and Eritrea-Ethiopia border issues?

ANSWER: Eritrea has renewed its membership of the African Union (AU) and posted an ambassador. An ambassador accredited to the AU is also accredited to all the regional economic communities. These, including IGAD, work under the umbrella of the AU. I see renewed hope that I could probably engage Eritrea through the new ambassador.

The Djibouti-Eritrea issue is being handled through the Qatari government. The Emir of Qatar has brought the two parties together [and] most probably it is going to end in a fruitful way.

There has not been any progress regarding the Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict. This [is a] fairly straightforward issue that requires the two principals to sit and discuss. Everybody is talking about what they think is the way forward, but the key is discussion. I call upon the Eritrean leadership to open a window of opportunity to discuss this.

QUESTION: Eritrea’s position is that the boundary commission ruling was final and binding, and the sides agreed beforehand that they will abide by it, so there is nothing to discuss except to implement the ruling. Should Ethiopia first implement the ruling?

ANSWER: Ethiopia respects the ruling. But the parties must get together and say – yes this is the ruling, how do we implement it? Even when a divorce has been granted, you go back to the house to agree what belongs to whom.

(For full interview, click here: http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportID=91800)

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